An appealing text showing off an author who’s found his perfect genre. Readers can only hope these appealing and thoughtful...

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DOG DAYS

DISPATCHES FROM BEDLAM FARM

A fourth installment from journalist Katz (A Good Dog, 2006, etc.) about his life and canine loves in upstate New York.

After three years in residence at Bedlam Farm, the author finally has his bona fides as a farmer: “a sunburned complexion, the hunched crab-walk...frostbitten fingers.” He already has a crew of hardworking dogs—border collie Rose, lovable Lab Clementine and injured Lab Pearl—when a new one enters his life. Izzy, a three-year-old border collie, has been rescued from a farm deserted by its ailing owner; the caretaker had fed him but otherwise left him to his own resources. Though wild and untrained, Izzy unexpectedly shows great sheep-herding potential, and Katz begins to spend more and more time honing his skills. Four dogs come to seem an unmanageable number. Rose is busy with her tasks on the farm, and Pearl works, unofficially, with the author at the physical therapy appointments for his bad back. But Clementine is frequently sidelined, and Katz reluctantly considers a startling solution: sharing ownership of Clem with Ali, a physical therapist who spends her off-hours hiking and playing soccer. It’s a wrenching decision, but Clem blossoms as an “only dog” under Ali’s care. Despite the book’s title, there’s more here than dog stories. Bedlam Farm hosts a herd of donkeys with which Katz shares a nightly snack and some music (the donkeys like Willie Nelson best), as well as an irrepressible, 1,800-pound steer named Elvis, who obeys simple commands when encouraged with apples. Katz’s views of animals continue to evolve. He’s come a long way from suburban pet ownership and now must consider not only the welfare of the animals, but also the welfare of the farm.

An appealing text showing off an author who’s found his perfect genre. Readers can only hope these appealing and thoughtful dispatches will continue.

Pub Date: June 26, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-6404-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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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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