A lighter-than-air autobiography by the leader of Liverpool's second-greatest '60s pop band. Marsden, lead singer of Gerry and the Pacemakers—foremost practitioners, with the Beatles, of his city's once-celebrated ``Merseybeat'' sound—whips through his life with the speed of a greatest-hits medley: He was kept in a suitcase beneath hall stairs during London air raids; as an infant he was enchanted by his father's ukelele playing; he brawled with mates in the Dingle, the Irish working-class neighborhood where he came of age. An engaging stage presence with a somewhat thin voice, Marsden came up at a time when 240 Liverpool bands were competing for a place in the suddenly global pop scene. In 1963, the Pacemakers scored three number-one British hits in a row—a feat still unmatched. Marsden's rendition of Rogers and Hammerstein's ``You'll Never Walk Alone'' has become the official song of Liverpool's soccer team, his ``Ferry Cross the Mersey'' a kind of Liverpool anthem. Accounts (written with Coleman, The Man Who Made the Beatles, 1989) of friendships with the Beatles (Marsden purloined his wife, Pauline, from George Harrison) and of early days honing his sound in Hamburg are the book's most interesting. Following the death of manager Brian Epstein, whom he describes as a lovable ``honest fool,'' Marsden starred in two musicals before reforming the Pacemakers and becoming the staple of '60s nostalgia shows. Marsden's tone is fittingly modest, and he seems intent on proving he's still a hometown boy—unlike the Beatles, who ``went for the arty clique.'' A closing passage suggests both Marsden's philosophy and his book's limitations: ``Sixties...songs were happy, the music simple and the lyrics nice to listen to. We didn't try to change the world.'' (16 pages b&w photos; discography)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-7475-1473-9

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Collins & Brown/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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