THE HOTEL

BACKSTAIRS AT THE WORLD'S MOST EXCLUSIVE HOTEL

A day-in-the-life view of venerable Claridge's of London. Some say that hotels sell sex. But according to Robinson (Bardot: Two Lives, not reviewed), what the expensive old inn on Brook Street sells is sleep: They feature mattresses so comfortable that the king of Morocco, who had come to the hotel with his own bed, ordered them for all the beds in his palace. If God is in the details, then Claridge's is a holy place, selling not only serene sleep but a kind of Edwardian service that is almost extinct. One customer wants his door handles wrapped in Kleenex. They are. The actor Edward G. Robinson had the concierge buy him two French poodles, and the president of South Korea, whose large party arrives with 450 pieces of luggage, needs the TVs in his suite replaced with sets made in Korea. Although the hotel does not sell sex, and no unregistered guests are allowed in the rooms after 11 p.m., like a good brothel it knows how to give a lot of bang for the buck. A Mr. Al-Turki will be spending some $75,000 for his six-week hotel visit. He would like to be called Your Excellency, and the staff is instructed to do just that. The centerpiece of Robinson's grand-hotel diary is a lavish state banquet given for Queen Elizabeth by the amir of Kuwait. For two hours of good food and appropriate conversation in a re-created desert tent in Claridge's ballroom, the amir spends nearly $300,000, and the hotel staff brings the project off with an attention to detail worthy of a NASA launching, including the creation of a silver pot used to hold the amir's plastic container of supermarket yogurt. The soul of discretion, Robinson has agreed not to mention many clients' names or their hotel room numbers. As Claridge's centennial year approaches, it may need a little interesting p.r., and this book should do nicely.

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55970-377-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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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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