An amusing homage to reading that contains something to offend even (especially?) the most ardent book lover.

READ REVIEW

ONE FOR THE BOOKS

A journalist shares his obsession with books, swinging his machete through the fields of literature.

A national columnist and prolific writer, Queenan (Closing Time: A Memoir, 2009) is crazy about books—literally. Even other bibliophiles will likely consider his reading habits to be on the lunatic fringe: “I cannot remember a single time when I was reading fewer than fifteen books…I am talking about books I am actively reading, books that are right there on my nightstand and are not leaving until I’m done with them. Right now, the number is thirty-two.” The author admits that this is “madness.” Such obsession makes him a promiscuous reader, but also a faithful one, devouring everything he can find from an author he discovers, no matter how obscure or prolific. Since he’s sometimes classified as a humorist, and since much of his humor lies in his outrageous assertions, it’s hard to tell how seriously to take his dismissal of Middlemarch, Ulysses and all of Thomas Hardy, though plainly he takes books and reading very seriously indeed. Yet he doesn’t much care for independent bookstores (“often staffed by condescending prigs who do not approve of people like me. The only writers they like are dead or exotic or Paul Auster”), or book critics (“mostly servile muttonheads, lacking the nerve to call out famous authors for their daft plots and slovenly prose), or book clubs (“I would rather have my eyelids gnawed on by famished gerbils than join a book club”). Queenan also resists the temptation of most book lovers to buy a lot of books, since he figures he won’t live long enough to read (or re-read) the ones he’s vowed to finish before he dies. Most will agree that “reading is intensely personal,” and the author splatters his personality over every page.

An amusing homage to reading that contains something to offend even (especially?) the most ardent book lover.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02582-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more