IN THE SHADOW OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

THE DIARIES OF DAVID WOJNAROWICZ

A harrowing journal of lust, creativity, and privation by the painter, photographer, and performance artist who died in 1992 at the age of 37. Wojnarowicz lived by night. From the time he first arrived in New York’shipped by a father who no longer wanted to care for him to a mother who didn’t know him—he took refuge in the night. By the age of 12, he’d discovered that his body could be traded for cash and so joined the rank and file of suicidally depressed teenage hustlers in Times Square—living on the street, taking drugs, and ricocheting from one john to the next. And yet, in spite of it all, Wojnarowicz had something that his peers did not: a will of tempered steel and a vision of himself as an artist. The wonder of these journals—the wonder, perhaps, of Wojnarowicz’s life—is that he wrote and drew his way out of despair. Once he began keeping a journal, he never stopped; by the time he died of AIDS, he had filled some 30 books. Scholder, founding editor of Artspace Books and of High Risk Books/Serpent’s Tail, has edited these so as to maximize the sense of Wojnarowicz’s forward momentum, but the transitions are still rough. Fortunately, the artist’s own sensibility makes even the most harrowing passages interesting, but the journals suffer for a lack of detailed information about the development of Wojnarowicz’s professional, artistic life. To some extent, however, the hard-hewn quality of his prose reflects his lived reality. For even before he knew he was HIV-positive, his life had a driven desperation: —If I turned from twenty-three to eighty in the simple sway from window to bed,” he wrote, “what lives would remain in my heart, what answers to the questions of solitude and movement?” In its rough, raw vitality, his diary still gives testament to the lives that remained in his heart and the inspiration he quite literally drew from them.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8021-1632-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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