From the files of a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist: ten uninteresting cases centering on sexual problems. Glenmullen contends that recent rapid changes in society's sexual attitudes have created confusion and conflict for many individuals, who are uncertain how to make sense of these changes and how know what values to apply to sexuality. As a psychiatrist, the author is privy to a multitude of sexual conflicts, and here he demonstrates how he gets to the bottom of these problems. Glenmullen has changed names, altered details, even borrowed dreams and images from other cases to create his case histories, which—with their lengthy passages of dialogue- -often read like fiction. In the title case, a young man discovers that his addiction to late-night walks to a porn shop to buy dirty magazines serves as a link to the porn-reading father who abandoned him years before. In ``The Acrobat's Stocking,'' another young man comes to understand why condoms have been ruining his sexual performance. The title of another ``tale,'' ``The Woman Who Thought Her Orgasm Was a Gift,'' invites comparison to Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, but Glenmullen's sex-oriented cases don't have the magnetism of Sacks's neurological ones, and Glenmullen can't match Sacks's gift for words. Although the collection's title may attract some readers, these cases aren't at all titillating—nor, unfortunately, very compelling: The patients lack human dimension, and their problems scarcely seem noteworthy. Even sex, it seems, can be dull.

Pub Date: April 14, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-016637-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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