All in all, though, insipid and dull.




Twenty-two mostly unfunny anecdotes exploring that moment of epiphany when a woman realizes that a disastrous relationship is over.

With enthusiasm but little else, Beck (co-author, Facing 30, not reviewed) brings together a series of repetitive stories chronicling lovers’ angst. The experiences here hardly seem universal or amusing. In “Demon Lover,” Elizabeth Matthews trysts with her lover in the park: “Soon, I associated the act of kissing him with the smell of dog shit.” She lists his other shortcomings: he’s a high-school dropout, has never held a job, lives in a hotel with his mother, has rotting teeth. We see the catastrophe, but where’s the romance? The mood is meant to be flippant, of course, but too many of the contributors mistake salacious details for clever writing. In “The Tao of Pizza and Sex,” R. Gay meets a woman on-line: “Cynthia and I exchanged pictures and she was cute enough, for a white girl, though in all her pictures, her cheeks were inexplicably rosy as if she were plagued by eternal cheer.” After four months, the two decide to meet, but, alas, fair Cynthia has rank hygiene and refuses to clean up her act. Rather than confront her new lover, Gay subjects the reader to all the gory details. Poor hygiene makes several appearances in these confessions: the offending parties wander through the pages, revealing plaque-encrusted teeth, burping, and leaving pungent odors in their wake. There are a few redeeming pieces, thankfully: Rekha Kuver recites a charming tale of an eighth-grade party gone awry (“In the middle of my basement, during the middle of my party, like an unbelievable mirage or projected holographic image, were two high schoolers. . . . This was sure to elevate my boy-girl party to the level of legend. Instead, I was terrified”). Allison Kraiberg recalls her law-student lover (“an Oscar to my Felix”), proving that opposites do attract, and Alison Luterman contributes a typically stellar poem.

All in all, though, insipid and dull.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58005-069-7

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet