A lightweight but engaging look back at days of long lunches and seemingly infinite expense accounts.

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Memories of a Mad Man

STORIES FROM THE GOLDEN—AND SOMETIMES TIN-PLATED—AGE OF ADVERTISING.

A retired adman shares tales of hawking everything from Tareyton cigarettes to the AT&T Yellow Pages in this debut memoir.

For decades, Spector made his living in advertising, and he enjoyed every minute of it. If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Smirnoff vodka or booked a room at the Ramada Inn, he might have had a hand in your decision. (And if you’ve ever cursed that earworm tagline for Wisk detergent, “Ring around the Collar,” he brought you that one, too.) This memoir of those crazy days of three-martini lunches and large-busted secretaries appears designed to capitalize on the immense success of the former AMC TV series Mad Men. His anecdotes are breezy and brief with an inviting gloss of insider knowledge. Consider one Apple computer ad featuring one of Spector’s idols, legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury: according to Spector, the reason Bradbury looked so energized and engaged in his photo is because when the picture was taken, they were discussing porn star Linda Lovelace. He also tells of an ultrasecret meeting in 1970 regarding “Project Red Eye,” which turned out to be an early demonstration of the fax machine (“Coast to Coast in 6 Minutes” the copy brags). In a chapter titled “The Truth About Truth In Advertising,” the author remembers testing a shaving cream’s claim that it’s so good, “it can shave sandpaper.” It turned out to be true—depending on what kind of sandpaper you used, he notes. Spector can be quite funny, as when he avers that “The expense account is probably responsible for more hangovers than anything else in the modern world.” The book’s major drawback, though, may be the Mad Men hook that initially grabs one’s attention. This may mislead some readers, because although Spector hints at wild times, his behavior is that of a gentleman; he may diss a colleague who likes to take credit for others’ ideas, but that’s about as far as he’ll go. Still, although Spector isn’t as naughty as Don Draper, he still has plenty of stories to tell. He’s a genial companion for a whirl around Madison Avenue’s not-too-distant past, and fans going through Mad Men withdrawal may still find that Spector’s book helps ease their pain.

A lightweight but engaging look back at days of long lunches and seemingly infinite expense accounts.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5061-9434-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

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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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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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