Better suited as a story told over beers.



Evans presents his true-life account of purchasing and operating a brothel in Panama.

Three high school buddies are grown up—in age, at least—and arriving at a midlife crisis. Angus, Jack and Evans—who wrote and narrates this biased account of real events—have been socially satisfied in youth, but they’ve grown depressed by the diminishing returns of California’s singles scene. Their advancing age doesn’t help, though the Viagra does. At their weekly sushi get-together, the trio plots a more reliable libidinous retreat—a trip to a Central American brothel where the women reciprocate for a price that doesn’t include rejection. Satisfied with the experience, the friends then jump at the chance to buy a brothel of their own in Panama, which Evans unconvincingly explains as a business opportunity rather than a wet dream. With little hesitation, the three friends become state-sanctioned pimps. Evans then ably answers the second question asked about a brothel (after “How much?”): How does it work? A few indulgences aside, he perceives prostitution strictly as a business, and runs it as such. Women selling themselves, which Evans perfunctorily argues is their right, is a resource for a successful business, akin to liquor licenses and Excel spreadsheets. Although Evans refuses to sleep with the prostitutes he employs because it would be bad for business, he claims that he could have bedded all 20 of them, perhaps at the same time. Despite his business savvy, Evans’ partnership with Angus and Jack slowly, then quickly, deteriorates. Rampant government corruption in Panama makes matters worse, as do obvious carnal distractions, until the ordeal climaxes in an unsexy mess of lawyers and politicians angling for bribes. After Angus and Jack abandon Evans by reneging on their ownership responsibilities, avarice and duplicity so easily replace their camaraderie that it brings the strength of the original friendship into question. Feeling especially victimized toward the end of the ordeal, Evans imagines Angus’ credo against him: “I want you to know that I disrespect you in a contemptuous manner!” The tension and resolution fall flaccid with stilted dialogue amid Evans’ overcompensation for a lack of literary charm.

Better suited as a story told over beers.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2010

ISBN: 978-0976891574

Page Count: 348

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2010

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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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