Under the boardwalk or up on the roof, this is a marvelous read.

READ REVIEW

ALWAYS MAGIC IN THE AIR

THE BOMP AND BRILLIANCE OF THE BRILL BUILDING ERA

The songsmiths of Broadway’s great hit factories get their due.

Stephen Foster’s biographer (Doo-Dah!, 1997) takes a welcome look at Foster’s 20th-century successors: the songwriters who toiled in humble cubicles at the Brill Building (1619 Broadway) and nearby 1650 Broadway, the hubs of New York’s music-publishing business during the heyday of ’50s and ’60s R&B, rock ’n’ roll and pop. He focuses on seven intertwined writing teams who often collaborated and competed with one another for cuts: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield and Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Emerson deftly shows how these prolific composers became ubiquitous figures in the music business of the day, and reveals the untold stories behind the composition of indelible tunes like “Be My Baby,” “Save the Last Dance For Me,” “Cryin’ in the Rain,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” and “Walk On By.” He doesn’t shrink from telling the writers’ personal stories, like the impact Pomus’s crippling polio had on his work or how marital tumult sundered the Goffin/King and Barry/Greenwich partnerships. He also spins interesting tales of such crucial players as publisher Don Kirshner and now-notorious producer-writer Phil Spector. These talents, Emerson notes, detonated rock’s first explosion through their versatility, their taste in sounds, ranging from classical music to R&B and Latin music, and sheer hard work. He charts their fortunes, cresting in the early ‘60s, and their swift fall, as the rise of performer-songwriters like Bob Dylan and the Beatles and the migration of the business to the West Coast spelled an end to New York’s reign as music’s capital. The story of these writers is long-overdue in the telling, and Emerson tells it splendidly.

Under the boardwalk or up on the roof, this is a marvelous read.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2005

ISBN: 0-670-03456-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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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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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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