Crude rib-tickling for die-hard fans, but a downer for those seeking more than surface shtick.

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RUBBER BALLS AND LIQUOR

The longtime funnyman and voice actor gets personal about his life and hard-won fame.

In his own unique, uproarious way, Gottfried approached the writing of his first book much the same way he performs his comedy act, by expressing “whatever pops into my head, very often without a conscious thought.” The result is a rollicking imbroglio of a memoir, as off-color as Gottfried followers have come to expect from the heckling jester. What the author considers the “big, sock-o opening” amounts to an explicit play-by-play from a botched tryst with a stripper. He wisely tones down the hyperactive wisecracking to recollect his Brooklyn childhood, the summer-camp histrionics, his father’s questionable hardware store and the genesis of his comedy career at age 15 in New York City. Gottfried writes of the “small success” his offbeat material and gravelly voiced delivery afforded him on the stand-up comedy circuit. Those qualities soon captured the attention of producers at MTV, Saturday Night Live, Hollywood film studios and commercial television. He jokes that his career has “walked a tightrope between early-morning children’s programming and hardcore porn.” Gottfried’s lengthy reflections from a silly stint on the Hollywood Squares are as airily entertaining as droll ruminations about his Jewish heritage, random encounters with Bea Arthur and Harrison Ford and the inside joke behind the book’s title. To the uninitiated, the comedian is an acquired taste and often strains the boundaries of good taste, while others revel in his unapologetically raunchy material. Hardly cathartic and more than a little self-indulgent, Gottfried’s narrative assails with one-liners, crude expletives and punchy self-deprecation right down to the very last page, where he thanks his publisher for  “waiting until I left the room to say, ‘Who thought a Gilbert Gottfried book was a good idea?’ ”

Crude rib-tickling for die-hard fans, but a downer for those seeking more than surface shtick.

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-66811-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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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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