Skip this one, unless you want to read Irene Cara’s musings on inner peace or Susan McDougal’s version of Whitewater.

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THE SIXTEENTH MINUTE

LIFE IN THE AFTERMATH OF FAME

What happens after your 15 minutes of fame?

Mick Foley, Irene Cara, Jim Wright—if you can’t place these names, you’re okay. They’re three of the once-famous people chronicled in this study of life after fleeting fame. Guinn and Perry (journalists with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Oregonian) pose some interesting questions: How does fame change a person? What is it like to go from stardom to—utter obscurity? Unfortunately, there are no satisfying answers here. One might expect a little history of fame; or some evidence that the authors had acquainted themselves with basic psychology; or a discussion of why fame is so important to the American psyche. But instead of an innovative analysis of life after fame, Guinn and Perry have simply cobbled together overly long profiles of a handful of once-famous folks. Each chapter tends to be the simple retelling of life-stories of people once but now forgotten. Those on Susan McDougal and Kelly Clarkson may come closest to satisfactorily addressing the topic of fame. McDougal found that, after she got out of prison and returned to small-town Arkansas, her life felt meaningless, so she returned to the public eye as an advocate for imprisoned women. Clarkson, the American Idol heroine, had wanted to be famous since she was a tiny tot, and, having achieved fame, she’s doing her fierce (and pathetic) best to hold onto it. Organization is also wanting. Chapters consist of a profile of an individual has-been followed by a chapter that tells part of the story of Melvin Dummar (the working-class guy who claimed Howard Hughes named him as an heir). It’s unclear why the authors devote half their text to Dummar, or why they spread his story out over the entire manuscript. Whatever the aim, the arrangement doesn’t work.

Skip this one, unless you want to read Irene Cara’s musings on inner peace or Susan McDougal’s version of Whitewater.

Pub Date: March 3, 2005

ISBN: 1-58452-389-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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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

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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

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