A veteran foreign correspondent undertakes here what she calls a ``consummately unfashionable'' journey through what used to be called Soviet Central Asia. Actually, the journey is both consummately fashionable and somewhat glibly undertaken. But Geyer (Guerrilla Prince, 1991, etc.) does convey the sense of penetrating an alien, volatile, and sometimes threatening society. In Moscow, we see an eerie ``holy fool'' gibbering at a corner of Red Square—and a suave businessman genuflecting before him. And so it is with some trepidation that our valiant correspondent dons her money belt and heads for remote Tatarstan. The Tatars she sees as the key to Russian identity, their oppression of Muscovy in the Middle Ages having turned Russia against outsiders. Today, in the peeling, hallucinatory city of Kazan she finds a resurgent nationalism that is almost touching in its naãvetÇ as a people submerged by Russian power since Ivan the Terrible's conquest in 1552 is budding once more—and thumbing a nose at its former master. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan: It's an enjoyable trek, all in all, but a pervading superciliousness dims Geyer's larger ambitions. For example, in Uzbekistan, she visits the Shah-i-Zinda complex of mausoleums, where Qasim ibn Abbas (who brought Islam to Central Asia) is buried. The episode is thrown in touristically, simply because it happened and because one of the self-described ``stock-brokers'' who had come with her from Samarkand suddenly goes into a kind of trance. It is a strange and curious moment, but Geyer cannot rise to it. She simply says ``I actually began to tremble'' and casually mentions the ``awe'' of the event. This is a good book, but it also reminds the reader that a certain kind of self-importance blunts an otherwise receptive mind, and that travelogues and journalism require different sensibilities that are hard to sew together. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-02-881110-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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