Moving selections, somewhat disconnected but gracefully composed.




Gettysburg Review managing editor Kupperman offers discrete, attentive autobiographical essays concerning her relationship with her mother and others in her life.

Undoing the harm of years of enforced silence—“the genesis of omission”—is the author’s aim in these essays about family, travel and love, published separately in literary journals, and as a collection the winner of the 2009 Bread Loaf Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction. The first part deals with the author’s mother, “Dolores, a prophecy of sorrows,” who died by suicide in 1989. Kupperman admits her mother had always been “foreign” to her—a glamorous presence who had once worked at Revlon and became the wife of a several-times married fundraiser for Jewish philanthropies (Kupperman’s father) in the 1950s. The couple underwent a rancorous custody battle when the author was eight, although it wasn’t until Kupperman’s father was dying in 2004 that he allowed her access to the extensive court files. “Habeas Corpus” delineates the unsavory contents of those files, such as the mother’s neglect of the daughter and entrapment by detectives in an adultery sting, ultimately necessitating both parties’ need to win the girl’s allegiance. In “Teeth in the Wind,” the author layers reflections of her family over different time periods: The “ghosts” riding a coastal wind storm in Maine circa 1995 bring to mind her attempts to locate the story of her paternal grandmother, supposedly from Kiev, who actually hailed from the Pale of Settlement region in western Ukraine before venturing to America after the pogroms of 1905. The Chernobyl nuclear cataclysm kept Kupperman from traveling to Russia, further complicating “the business of remembering.” In “The Perfect Meal,” the author examines her doomed love affair with a married man, and “That Roar on the Other Side of Violence” provides eloquent anecdotes about the battered women who populated a domestic-abuse shelter where the author worked.

Moving selections, somewhat disconnected but gracefully composed.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55597-560-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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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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