Although this collection is too much of a good thing, one can't help looking forward to subsequent volumes: Thompson is just...

READ REVIEW

THE FEAR AND LOATHING LETTERS

VOL. I, THE PROUD HIGHWAY

Fear and loathing, aphorism and malediction, mischief and indigence, fill this galvanically gonzo collection of Thompson's early letters.

The omnipresence of telephones and e-mail probably ensure that Thompson (Songs of the Doomed, 1990, etc.) will be one of the last of the great letter writers. But even in more epistolary times, few could rival the approximately 20,000 missives to his name. He came of age in the early 1950s, a silver age of American literature when a writing life was still considered heroic, and colossi like Faulkner and Hemingway bestrode the earth. From an early age Thompson felt himself destined for similar literary greatness, and so he carefully made carbon copies of every letter he sent. Though the sheer bulk of this collection makes one wish he'd been a little less conscientious, there are some gems here. Thompson writes the kinds of letters most of us wish we had the guts to send. He brilliantly berates agents for rejecting his work, sends out rude, fantastical excuses to his creditors, applies insultingly for a variety of jobs, and even offers his services to Lyndon Johnson as the governor of American Samoa. Thompson is one of our great polemical stylists, and these letters reveal just how seriously he approached the craft of writing (belying his trademark hell-raising insouciance). He is also preoccupied with something that concerns many great artists: lack of funds. Almost every letter finds him trying to scrounge up money. Biographically, these letters take Thompson from his stint in the air force to his early attempts to break into journalism, following his peregrinations across the Americas and on to his first great success, his 1967 book on the Hell's Angels.

Although this collection is too much of a good thing, one can't help looking forward to subsequent volumes: Thompson is just so damned entertaining.

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-40965-6

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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