An intelligent but severely flawed look at Anglophone films set in Africa from the silent era to the present. Cameron (Our Jo, or the Chronicle of a Coming Man, 1974, etc.) notes that the Africa of American, British, and South African films bears little or no resemblance to the real place. Instead, it is a locus for the projection of mostly 19th-century attitudes toward the continent, often racist and imperialist. In his introductory remarks, the author promises that this book will move beyond the rather mechanistic dismissal of such films as pure-and- simple vehicles of racist ideology. He wants to examine the roles of gender and class in the films and how political and historical realities inflected their racial politics. He traces the influence of authors H. Rider Haggard (Solomon's Mines) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan), showing how filmmakers revamped the more overtly offensive elements of the books. Much of the rest of this volume is occupied with the development of various character archetypes in the films under examination. Cameron is a sardonic, witty writer and has obviously spent incalculable hours looking at films that few have seen since their original release. However, the book offers a narrative-based aesthetic that is ultimately as mechanistic and schematic as the simple-minded ``anti-racism'' that he calls into question. The book has little visual analysis, little recognition of the role of the director in many of the films under discussion. Moreover, his distinction between British and American films begins to break down as international cofinancing becomes the rule for English films. Is Mountains of the Moon, directed by Bob Rafelson, really a British film? Is Cry Freedom!, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, an American one? An entertaining read, and not without the virtues of humor and smarts, but an ultimately disappointing volume on an underexamined subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8264-0658-0

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Continuum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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