ABOVE THE CLOUDS

An abandoned son comes to terms with a famous father (Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull) in a memoir that mixes a moving account of a child's confused loyalties and sense of loss with a mÇlange of self-help truisms. Named after the seagull hero, the author never really knew his father until his senior year in college, when his decision to write an initially hostile book about his dad began a dialogue between the two. Bach päre left his family when the youngest of his six children was nine months old and Jonathan only two, ``because he didn't believe in marriage and couldn't be a father anymore.'' And because Richard Bach apparently also didn't believe in birthdays, Christmas, or any of the holidays marked by cards and calls, the children never heard from him. Their mother, a remarkably accomplished woman, moved the family to Vermont, where she later remarried. The author's fierce love and admiration for her made it difficult for him to forgive his father, especially when he learned that Richard was involved with other women. In time, the older children made contact, and then met, with their father, and the young author even sent him some stories of his own—yet anger and anguished inability to understand his father prevented both reconciliation and acceptance. But after Jonathan found Richard's response to his proposed book to be surprisingly supportive, the tentative rapprochement became a complete reconciliation as the son flew out to Seattle to meet his father. As they talked, the author found that his ``misconceptions had dissolved'' and that he'd become ``a distant-son-turned-understanding-friend who, like millions of other people, likes what [Richard] has to say, and how he says it.'' Bach affectingly evokes the anguish of a fatherless childhood- -but less so the reconciliation, as he self-consciously glosses over behavior that, despite high-sounding talk, still seems inexcusable.

Pub Date: May 18, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-11760-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

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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