An numbingly comprehensive biography strictly for the obsessed.

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NIRVANA

THE BIOGRAPHY

Everything you always wanted to know about Nirvana . . . and a lot you didn’t.

Despite their relatively small recorded output, Nirvana put together a catalogue worthy of time-capsule placement alongside The Beatles, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin and James Brown, which is why you can almost justify a 500-plus-page study of the band. Since veteran rock journalist and Cobain intimate True was a grunge insider, one would assume that his doorstop of a book would present insights and factoids somehow missed in Michael Azerrad’s fine Come as You Are (1993) and Charles R. Cross’s excellent Heavier Than Heaven (2001). Azerrad and Cross, though, didn’t miss much. This new entry is a rehash bulked up by 200-or-so pages of insider gossip and True’s self-serving I-was-there digressions. The author gets points for experimenting with form and format (oddball footnotes and non-linear asides that almost come off as dream sequences), but it makes for a frustrating read: Think Lester Bangs meets Mark Z. Danielewski. The author is a fine musical analyst, offering up solid evaluation and reevaluation of virtually every note that Nirvana ever played. Many of the anecdotes about random debauchery, ear- and soul-shattering concerts and recording-studio drama make for enjoyably voyeuristic reading. But the this-one-slept-with-that-one-and-that-one-got-wasted-with-this-one material becomes tiresome long before even the halfway point. The innumerable Nirvana fanatics will snap this up, but the more serious-minded are better off sticking with Azerrad and Cross.

An numbingly comprehensive biography strictly for the obsessed.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-306-81554-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Da Capo

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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