Sympathetic bio-critical study of the French painter once savaged for his radical style. The most intriguing thing about Matisse was his bourgeois life, which included law school, a family (with kids), and—after some years of searing poverty—mounds of money: Hardly the background one expects of a man who, for a time, was perceived as Picasso's equal in the creation of modern art and was portrayed as an artistic terrorist or pervert by critics on both sides of the Atlantic. But, as art historian Herrera (Frida, 1983, etc.) points out, Matisse did indeed shock with his early canvases, especially in 1905, when he invented Fauvism, with its garish tints and barbaric strokes. Matisse enjoyed the limelight until Picasso left him in the dust by developing cubism, whose geometric forms were so unlike Matisse's color-oriented canvases. For the next three or four decades, Matisse led a successful artist's life, devising a simplified, decorator's style ``radiant with Mediterranean sunlight.'' His paintings were also steeped with eroticism; Matisse liked to put one hand on his nude model's knee as he painted with the other. In his last years, a burst of creativity with colored- paper cut-outs led to new accolades and did nothing to hurt his reputation as a feel-good artist (a description Matisse wouldn't have minded, since he believed that his paintings could cure disease). As Herrera explains, Matisse's family and friends continue to keep his private life under wraps. This leads to a study thick with surface details (many of the paintings are closely described) but too shallow to encompass the inner currents. (Twenty-eight color, 80 b&w illustrations—not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-15-158183-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Harcourt

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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