When in 1923 the American writer Jean Toomer (1894-1967) published Cane, his famous lyric and experimental novel of black southern life, he received immediate recognition and acknowledgment for having produced an American literary masterpiece. In the more than 40 years of his life following Cane, however, Toomer was neither to publish voluminously nor to recapture the breadth of recognition that had come to him after his first book. His life and thought, nevertheless, continued to possess passion, relevance, and consistency during the subsequent decades, and black and American literature scholar Rusch (English/John Jay College/CUNY) has compiled this welcome selection of unpublished Toomer writings in order to provide a full overview both of the author's life and of his thought. Fragments, letters (to Waldo Frank, Sherwood Anderson, Horace Liveright, and Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe, among others), essays, fiction, poetry, even a children's story are included. ``The attainment of self-realization and psychic wholeness leading to a new personal and social harmony was Toomer's aim throughout his life,'' writes Rusch, speaking in his introduction of Toomer's indefatigable idealism: ``Toomer believed that human beings could change, transcend their ordinary lives and selves, and find true being and unity with others.'' Toomer himself, in a Whitmanesque fragment dated 1931 and included in the volume, writes that ``There is a new race in America. I am a member of this new race. It is neither white nor black nor in-between. It is the American race, differing as much from white and black as white and black differ from each other.'' And in a letter to Stieglitz of October 21, 1939, he writes: ``If I have not yet reached Heaven at least my feet are more firmly planted on the Earth. As every jumper knows, one must have good purchase on the ground in order really to spring up.''

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-507733-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1993

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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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