Pithy portions of wisdom well-told.




A lifetime of collected anecdotes in an excellent and entertaining resource for speakers, writers, and storytellers.

Physician, researcher, and speaker Rajah writes that he spent 20 years amassing these 365 parables and is grateful for his early realization that he needed to record these stories because “the faintest ink is stronger than the best memory.” Each month of the year has a theme: e.g., “Philosophy and Wisdom” for January, “Best Humor” for June, and “Inspiration” for December. Most days, the anecdote is accompanied by a brief message and a quote, the sources ranging from Che Guevara and Friedrich Nietzsche to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mark Twain. “Plowing Troubled Land” tells of a Jewish potato farmer sent to a concentration camp while his gentile wife was left to manage the farm. The man wrote his wife a letter and said, “Don’t dare plow the field. There is a lot of hidden hardware buried.” The very night she received the letter, the Gestapo arrived and raided the farm, digging up all the land. The confused wife wrote her husband about the incident, and he replied, “Now plant the potatoes”: after all, “Every crisis represents at the same time an opportunity.” It’s hard to imagine a reader who won’t discover fresh stories in these pages. That said, a few of the stories are overly familiar or commonplace, such as the “Footprints in the Sand” legend in which a man dreams he’s walking on the beach with God. Nevertheless, the well-written book would make a fine resource for anyone needing a brief illustration to share at a church or civic club meeting. While offering a year’s worth of stories, the book never turns tiresome, perfectly illustrating the quote from Winston Churchill that a good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: “long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest”—an apt description of the book itself.

Pithy portions of wisdom well-told.

Pub Date: May 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1502462473

Page Count: 470

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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