Manic essays on contemporary books, television, and cultural phenomena from a veteran critic for New York magazine and elsewhere. Leonard has collected his writings of the past few years—mostly from the Nation” into a new book, his eighth (after Smoke and Mirrors: Violence, Television, and Other American Cultures, 1997, etc.). He talks about books, events, and TV shows in verbals riffs more musical than intellectual: “I call The X-Files and like-minded cinemas “paranoirs.’ Those regressive hypnotherapists who buy into alien abduction . . . I call “psyclops.’ And those academics who insist on publishing monographs about such phenomena, I call “Cult Studs’—for their piratical boarding, under the black flags of Foucault and Lacan, of the pleasure craft on the pop seas; their swashbuckling style and their slaughter of the innocents.” In small doses, the swash and buckle of his own prose can be entertaining. Often Leonard is funny, in particular when writing about the media extravaganza that made Lorena Bobbit a star. Perhaps his glib, rapid-fire, superhip attitudinizing is meant to mimic the media culture of hyperbuzz that it addresses—as if Leonard has his finger on the amphetamine-pumped pulse of urban life. But in the long run of a whole book, the droll patter of his literary sound bites becomes oppressive. Readers will search in vain for a set of compelling issues, sustained thoughts, or concerns to unite these reviews into a coherent whole. Instead, an idiosyncratic prose style and an intrusive personality do what little they can to unify the pieces collected for this volume. These essays on literature and pop culture, though entertaining in themselves, do not add up to much of a book.

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56584-533-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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