An satisfying dancer's tale of struggle and survival. The incurably innocent, Canadian-born farmer's daughter Bird began studying with Martha Graham in 1930 at Seattle's Cornish School, arriving with no thought that the 12-week stint would change her life. But her nervy, high-spirited memoir, cowritten with her former student Greenberg, recounts how this change took place, offering shrewd glimpses of Graham at a critical early point in her choreographic career, and following Bird herself beyond induction into Graham's modernism in New York and on to the Broadway stage. Bird explains the sources of Graham's unique pedagogy and her working methods when creating dances. Once, for example, Bird was an invited guest when Graham was at work alone, and as she observed, ``Martha did not use music or counts. She used sounds . . . At times she seemed to be keening, as her Irish ancestors might have done long ago. The startling movement patterns that were evolving came not out of those strange sounds, but out of her articulately alive and animated body.'' Bird demonstrated Graham's technique to other dancers at her mentor's urging but was not a favored performer. In 1937, feeling frustrated and exploited by Graham's slave-driving tendencies, she left the Graham entourage—only to find a second career as a dancer in musical theater and a third as a much-respected dance teacher of children (for Balanchine and others) and adults. The memoir concludes, a bit unconvincingly, with Bird's testimonial of eternal admiration for Graham. In a lighthearted mood, Bird remembers how Graham explained sex to her, the neophyte. Her later life was difficult—her first child died in infancy, and her second husband, Paul Villard, was blacklisted. She died, at 84, in 1996. A fascinating glimpse of life inside Graham's charmed circle, and a moving record of one dancer's determined pursuit of a career. (32 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 1997

ISBN: 0-8229-3980-0

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Univ. of Pittsburgh

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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