For those with a terrible thirst for foamy Hibernian whimsy.

READ REVIEW

PINT-SIZED IRELAND

IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT GUINNESS

A jolly journalist takes a junket from Down Under to the Emerald Isle in order to acquire a taste for the beverage he describes as “liquid coal.”

Despite this poor first impression, Australian McHugh quickly became proficient in drinking Guinness as he backpacked around Ireland with his girlfriend “Twidkiwodm” (short for “the-woman-I-didn’t-know-I-would-one-day-marry,” whose real name is Michelle). From Dublin, they toured the costal towns of Kilarney, Dingle, Tralee and Tarbet. Then northward they marched to Donegal and Dungloe, progressing from the initial dreadful pint to regular, happy imbibing with many colorful denizens of all the best pubs. Innocent fun was had as the couple wandered through Gaelic tourist traps and cozy hostels, paying due obeisance to St. Patrick, Yeats and a local dolphin. Under the careful observation of Twidkiwodm, McHugh also admired the local girls. By bus, bike, foot and outstretched thumb they went, making the rounds with fellow foreign trekkers and local Pats and Sheilas. The gregarious and rowdy natives, as transcribed here, all spoke in a thick vaudeville brogue, reverting to English for a line or two only on rare occasions. Gargling the black stuff while mucking around Ireland is not a new subject (see Peter Biddlecombe’s Ireland: In a Glass of Its Own, 2006), but this book is heady and goes down smoothly.

For those with a terrible thirst for foamy Hibernian whimsy.

Pub Date: March 6, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-36366-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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