A simple but affecting memoir of one mother's tragedies and triumphs in the age of AIDS, written with the help fo Dworkin, a former editor of Ms. magazine. White, whose son Ryan became the center of a controversy concerning AIDS, begins her journey into the devastating world of parenting an ill child by learning to cope with the demands of her newborn son's hemophilia. This is challenge enough for any parent, but when Ryan is diagnosed with AIDS in late 1984, White's trials take on far deeper dimensions. What makes this memoir particularly worthwhile is the author's account of the impact of Ryan's illness on her and those around her. Ryan's father is unable to cope, and the couple eventually divorce. Ryan's sister avoids all reporters, even when her brother becomes a media star. Neighbors and friends shun the boy and his family, resorting to legal action to keep him out of the classroom. When Ryan does get back to school, he is taunted with cries of ``faggot'' and is isolated. Reporters sympathetic to her son receive death threats. Yet White prevails. Although she has grown up in a community that views homosexuals as sinners, she comes to see them not as transgressors but as her allies. And never does White lose her faith in God. Instead of perceiving her son's illness as a punishment, she sees it as a test. She writes, ``I felt that handling the tests that life brought you was how you worked your way into Heaven.'' The book cannot be considered a treatment of your typical child victim of AIDS, as Ryan was lavishly attended to by the likes of Michael Jackson and Elton John (whose names are dropped all too often). Nonetheless, this is a fine tribute, on the seventh anniversary of his death, from a mother to a son whose spirit touched the world. (First printing of 40,000; author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-380-97328-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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