The fall of the Berlin Wall and the dramatic changes in Europe have produced a virtual industry of publications. Now comes the book we've been waiting for: master travel writer Morris's (Sydney, 1992; O Canada, 1992, etc.) uncannily astute reflections on how Europe has developed over the past 50 years. It is 51 years exactly since Morris, then named James, a young Anglo-Welsh soldier in Trieste, first took notes on his European experience. Although Morris's 1972 gender change is not discussed directly in these writings, they offer a deeply personal and subjective view of a continent observed by a perceptive eyewitness who, it so happens, has had the added advantage of experiencing it as both man and woman. Morris's is a truly unique voice. The book consists of vignettes loosely structured under five chapter headings. It begins with ``Holy Symptoms,'' characteristically serious but witty responses to the role of paganism and Christianity as ``universal defining factors'' in European history. Morris, an ardent Welsh patriot, brings a singular understanding to the subject of Europe's ethnic and geographic diversity and the bloody business of nation-building in the next two sections. The final chapters cover Europe's increasing homogenization and the six attempts to unify the continent, from the Holy Roman Empire to the European Union. Morris's understanding of both the follies and the dignity of patriotism lie behind her ability to laugh at and delight in others' idiosyncrasies. With the Germans, Morris admits to having a love-hate relationship, and her pieces on Germany's rich cultural legacy set against its Nazi past are among the most moving in the book. The glory of France she finds ``insidiously seductive'' because it strikes her as ``perfectly humorless,'' whereas it is the ``sycophancy of older Austrians'' that she most dislikes. For every nation, for every region or town, from Finland to Greece, Morris delivers a precise, moving, and eloquent reflection. Fifty Years of Europe is a delight.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-41610-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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