Masson may be an anecdotist, but he is also a graceful, powerful, informed writer. He knows how to keep our cogs turning.

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DOGS NEVER LIE ABOUT LOVE

REFLECTIONS ON THE EMOTIONAL WORLD OF DOGS

Riding the wave generated by his bestselling When Elephants Weep (1995), Masson offers further clever musings on the emotional lives of animals, concentrating on that most fervent practitioner of interspecies devotion, Rover.

Again, as in his earlier book, Masson serves a bounty of curious animal stories designed to at least hint at a complex inner life, full of deep feelings, in dogs. He doesn't claim to be following any particular scientific method. In fact, one of the best parts of this book is a canny dissection of anthropomorphism: when it is egregiously applied and clouds our understanding; when it serves as a scientific gag order, a closing of the mind. And he reminds the reader more often than necessary that his suppostions are a far cry from proof. He is just following his instincts, backing them up when he can from the formidable amount of research done on animal behavior. What this boils down to is Masson the storyteller, reeling off tale after tale of dog behavior that cries out to be considered on the emotional level. Many of the stories are of the winning, feel-good variety, of forgiveness and courage and loyalty (including one in which a trained police dog disobeys an apparently unjust order to attack), of their bottomless capacity for love and fun. There are darker stories, too—fashioned to raise our ire—of dogs' humiliation and abuse and abandonment at the hands of humans. But Masson can be irritating, tendering opinions as facts: "No other animal (wild, tame, or domesticated) carries such meaning for humans as the dog,'' and "Dogs do not lie to you about how they feel,'' as if he knows that dogs are incapable of a put-on.

Masson may be an anecdotist, but he is also a graceful, powerful, informed writer. He knows how to keep our cogs turning.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-609-60057-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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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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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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