Scatman Crothers offers Haskins one of the liveliest of the writer's 50 or so books (Richard Pryor, Mr. Bojangles, Queen of the Blues: The Story of Dinah Washington, etc.). Crothers had a long career as a drummer, scat singer, and bandleader before moving into acting. Some readers may remember him best for his role as the paranormal black cook in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, who explains the title's meaning and later tries to save little Danny from ax-wielding Jack Nicholson. When Crothers, a very longtime weed smoker, met Nicholson on the London set for the Kubrick movie, Nicholson, another herbalist, said, ``Well, ol' buddy, we're about to make our fourth classic together!'' Crothers had played the orderly who lets the inmates have their party in Nicholson's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and long roles as a black gangster in The King of Marvin Gardens and The Fortune, both Nicholson features; Crothers felt that Nicholson took an interest in him. Kubrick, ever the perfectionist, had Nicholson ax 68-year- old Crothers again and again: ``Somebody said something about me being too old to fall down that many times, and Nicholson jumps in and says, `Who says my man's too old to fall down? Why, he can fall down 50 or 60 times if he has to.' '' Crothers was born in Terre Haute as Sherman Crothers, ``quitulated'' from high school to play in a band, was later known as the man with ``the shiniest mouth in town.'' He married Helen Sullivan, a Hungarian white woman, ``for contrast,'' and the marriage lasted until his death 48 years later. Much of his story takes place in Chicago and midwestern speak- easies, with gangsters as heavy tippers for Scatman's bands. In later years he starred widely on TV, his biggest role being three years with Chico and the Man. He died of cancer in 1986. Warm and full of good spirits. (Twenty-four b&w photographs- -not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-08521-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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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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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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