Here is Dear Miss Manners once again, scolding and shaking her finger at Gentle Readers who fall short in the task of lubricating the increasing, squeaky hinges of social interaction. This time, Martin (Miss Manners on [Painfully Proper] Weddings, 1996, etc.} adopts Miss Manners's familiar, self- mocking pseudo-Victorian persona (``totally besotted with the idea of proper behavior'') to address a host of millennial dilemmas in etiquette. These range from legislating protection for the American flag to netiquette on the Internet. She deplores the first (the power of etiquette is sufficient safeguard, she maintains, siding with the Supreme Court) and hails the second as a resurgence of standards to guide the new electronic community. In between, she fearlessly, but politely, tackles issues of date rape, sexual harassment, public protest, political correctness, dress codes, and even proper behavior in the operating room. Why, she wonders grumpily, should a nervous patient or even other members of the surgical team be subjected to the surgeon's taste in music—or any music at all, for that matter? That, like smoking in an unventilated room, is inflicting a possibly offensive personal whim on a defenseless public. Incidentally, etiquette does not preclude that public, individually or collectively, from protesting strongly—but politely, of course. As amusing (or irritating, depending on your tolerance for those who refer to themselves in the third person) as Miss Manners may be, she takes her subject seriously enough to equate manners with morals. Etiquette is more than social convention—it promotes orderly and predictable behavior that enhances human dignity and reduces conflict. It is worth preserving, she feels, even as traditions evolve. With civility as the foundation of civilization, Miss Manners evokes a kinder, gentler lifestyle that still packs a (ladylike) punch. (20 b&w line drawings, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-517-70164-2

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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