A worthy companion to Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City and the American Institute of Architects guides to the...

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MAGNETIC CITY

A WALKING COMPANION TO NEW YORK

A street-level celebration of New York City in all “its perpetual complexity and contradiction.”

Gotham, writes New York architecture critic Davidson, is a liquid city, “a stunningly obvious fact that for decades was almost forgotten,” strung across islands, inlets, and peninsulas. It is also, indeed, magnetic, a city that for centuries has drawn people of all kinds from all around the world and “for all different reasons,” the best of them having to do with art, though many regarding brutal commerce. Thus it is that New York might also now be seen as a liquid assets city, a place where the dollar and only the dollar decides. Touring the boroughs through a series of vigorous water-hopping walks—and there is no city better for walking, an activity that means “having no idea who will cross your path, what they believe, or how they will behave”—Davidson ventures casual asides that could easily turn into whole treatises: how is it that the Hanover Bank, named after the grandest royal family of Europe, could have been housed in so plain an edifice? How did it come about that the traffic-dodging Manhattanite now walks in one of the safest cities in the world for pedestrians, such that “being a flâneur in New York remains as intellectually invigorating as ever; it’s just no longer an extreme sport”? The author also examines the Grand Concourse, with its 11 auto lanes and spindly treed median—not the great promenade its creators envisioned so much as a speedway and sometimes parking lot. Davidson consistently writes with bright enthusiasm (“Is there any human activity that architecture can’t elevate?”), and he thankfully avoids the clots of postmodern jargon that so often burden books of contemporary criticism.

A worthy companion to Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City and the American Institute of Architects guides to the architecture of New York as well as a treat for fans of the metropolis.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-39470-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

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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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