A moving testimony to the endurance of love and the human spirit as veteran writer Sanford (View from this Wilderness; A More Goodly Country, etc.) celebrates his 50-year-plus marriage to the beloved late Maggie, screenwriter of the Oscar-winning True Grit. As he tells his love story, Sanford occasionally includes extracts from his other writings, in which he analyzes figures as diverse as T.S. Eliot, Richard Nixon, and Billy Graham. Sanford's long writing career—a succession of small successes and large disappointments over six decades—offers a poignant undertone to his tale, as well as a reminder that the writer's path can be a stony one. The Sanfords met in 1936, at Paramount: Maggie Roberts was a successful screenwriter who'd worked her way up from secretary to Hollywood prominence, while Sanford was a novelist brought from New York to work on scripts. The two married a year later, and, with Maggie's encouragement, Sanford abandoned screenwriting: Maggie recognized that he wrote to suit himself and at his own pace. For the rest of her life, Maggie not only supported her husband in comfort—racehorses, Jaguars, attractive houses—but sent money to his ailing father as well as to her own family. It's a generosity that Sanford equally generously acknowledges here—but Maggie was to pay an even greater price. Though Sanford was a lifelong Communist with somewhat naive and idealistic views, it was Maggie who would be hurt the most by his convictions. Joining the Party only because of her husband, she found that her appearance before HUAC made her unemployable for more than a decade, while Sanford was still able to get published. Maggie eventually went back to work for Columbia. She died in 1989. A sometimes too personal story—occasionally, conversations obviously meaningful in context sound stiff and dated here—but heartfelt in its affection and gratitude. (Eight pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-942637-97-6

Page Count: 417

Publisher: Barricade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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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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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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