Wintering in Antarctica is a lark compared with getting there and back in a small sailboat, as Shapiro and Bjelke (freebooters out of Sweden) tell it. Having paid a summertime visit to the southernmost of continents—reveling in the wildness of it all, the waters swept with lilac-hued icebergs—Shapiro and Bjelke wanted more, a whole circuit of the seasons in Antarctica, aboard their 40-foot sailing vessel. They chart a circuitous course from Sweden, a shakedown voyage that takes them north to the Faroes, west to Canada, and down to Gloucester, testing the mettle of their craft and themselves. Time and again, shoddy workmanship and faulty hardware almost nix their plans, but the duo struggles on, aided by fair skies, a favoring wind, and extraordinary luck in happening across folks who tend to their engine problems and electrical malfunctions. They pound across the Atlantic again, challenging their boat to make sure it can withstand a polar winter, then head south to lock themselves into the ice. They tell their story in alternating voices, a chapter at a throw, Bjelke concentrating on the nautical details while Shapiro takes the breezier tack, pleasuring in the colors and contours of place, delighting in the wealth of wildlife and the ``200 nuances of morning light.'' Once anchored, they take long skiing trips, visit penguin rookeries and Wendell seal pupping grounds, bemoan the degradation of this heretofore virgin environment by tour groups, then question the impact even their light-stepping presence has on so fragile a landscape. When their tour is over, it's back to slamming seas and tortuous four-hour shifts—asleep one second, unwrapping the halyard and coupling it to the pulpit the next. A bumpy ride, but given the itinerary, was any less expected? (b&w and color photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-07-006399-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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



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


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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