Nineteen brief but resonant vignettes of life in the Pacific Basin as the area is transformed by its entry into the world of international trade and finance. Drawn from Viviano's experiences as a reporter for the Pacific News Service and San Francisco Chronicle, the larger story of economic development, societal change, and shifting values is captured here in the day-to-day lives of such individuals as a former Red Guard, a Taiwanese bok-choy farmer-turned-entrepreneur, and a Hmong tribesman transferred from the Laotian highlands to California's Silicon Valley. Temporarily assigned to the Far East in 1979, Viviano quickly becomes fascinated by Asia, and his sojourn eventually stretches to 12 years. During his stint, the sharp-eyed author travels to the tottering People's Republic of China during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, to the Philippines of the newly installed Corazon Aquino, to the Las Vegas/Atlantic City glitz of China's ``fleshpot'' resort of Xiamen. In every venue, Viviano manages to interview individuals whose lives are being transformed by the events around them, and he's continually on the alert for ironies and irrationalities—as highlighted, for instance, in his discussion of Singapore: ``It was amusing, in these years of Washington's Evil Empire rhetoric, to hear Ronald Reagan cite Singapore as a sterling example of the achievements of free enterprise, when it was actually one of the most thoroughly socialistic nations on earth.'' Viviano also points out that, although the Gulf War prevented him from doing so, James Baker was scheduled to take part in an expedition in Mongolia to hunt the seriously endangered ibox. Marred slightly by the author's reticence about his own life; otherwise, a satisfying work that's less scholarly but perhaps even more effective than Stan Sesser's The Lands of Charm and Cruelty (p. 359).

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-201-63290-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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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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