FEAST HERE AWHILE

ADVENTURES IN AMERICAN EATING

Brans (Take Two, 1989, etc.) turns here to culinary autobiography but lacks the personality or style to make a unique mark. The author proceeds from Mother's good plain cooking (``her meringues rose sky high'') to cooking on her own with Betty Crocker, then with James Beard's Hors d'Oeuvres and CanapÇs (``Beard taught me that cream cheese goes with everything''), Julia Child (``I cuisined up a storm....Quel fun''), and The Silver Palate pair, about whom she gushes for a long chapter. Brans often strays from eating to characterizing the various stages of her life, such as the time she spent as a happily married ``beatnik,'' but she never gets beyond generalization—and in one sentence she's unaccountably divorced and remarried...and on to more eating adventures. Between accounts of her own experiences are anecdotes of other people, collected through a questionnaire she sent out to acquaintances (``What memorable experiences did you have at the table as a child?''), but they too fail to sparkle in the reading or add up to any point. The author's ostensibly mildly ironic tone throughout seems modeled on that of Jane and Michael Stern, but it hasn't their sly wit or sensibility. From her corny declaration of a childhood love for Wonder Bread (``Our bread of choice was Wonder, and it was Wonderful'') to her closing raptures over lunch at Bouley (number one in Zagat) during last summer's $19.92 special, Brans fails to entertain with any fresh observations on food or foodies or to rise above the generally banal level of the genre.

Pub Date: May 7, 1993

ISBN: 0-395-61593-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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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