A thoughtful consideration of the limits of familial loyalty.

READ REVIEW

JUST LASSEN TO ME!

A FIRST-GENERATION SON'S STORY: SURVIVING A SURVIVOR

Simkovits recounts his struggle to come to terms with his father’s morally questionable financial dealings in this first memoir in a series.

The debut author grew up in Montreal and loved his larger-than-life father, Johnny—a gregarious and successful entrepreneur in the record player manufacturing industry. Johnny was born in Czechoslovakia, fought in four different armies during World War II, and escaped Soviet tyranny. Simkovits also portrays his father as a man of elastic ethical principle—a heavy-drinking philanderer who was involved in “deceitful tax-avoiding ways” that included concealing wealth in offshore bank accounts. In his younger days, the author was eager to win his father’s approval, so he adopted his spendthrift habits. But after Simkovits came to understand the emotional pain that his dad had inflicted upon his dutiful mother, he came to regret what felt like his own complicity. He captures this emotional situation in lucid prose: “I had tried to be a loyal and trusting biblical Isaac to my revered Abraham father. At some juncture, I started to feel as if I were being led up a mount for my sacrifice to a false money god.” After his father died, the author inherited his father’s “hidden hoard,” much of it illicitly shielded from taxation, and he felt that he had no choice but to reveal the shame he’d been harboring. Simkovits also chronicles his own childhood as well as Johnny’s difficult youth and later professional success. The author’s remembrance is impressively sensitive as he tells of his father’s financial skulduggery, and he unabashedly shares his admiration for him, as well. He realistically portrays his complex parent as a man of contradictions; for example, he describes his father as a “cold weather Catholic” who often golfed during warm Sundays instead of going to church but who also earnestly insisted that his sons be “good Catholics.” The author astutely presents his father’s justification for his financial “shenanigans”: “A lot of wealthy people do this. We should not be any different than the rest.” Simkovits’ recounting tends to meander a bit at times, but this never undermines the intelligent story that he tells.

A thoughtful consideration of the limits of familial loyalty.

Pub Date: June 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9773957-3-6

Page Count: 468

Publisher: Wise Press

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more