LOVE, JANIS

Joplin pens a bio of her legendary older sister that's more detailed and evenhanded, yet much less dramatic and emotionally raw, than Myra Friedman's bestselling Buried Alive (1973)—and includes the rock star's unpublished letters home, more revealing for Janis's aren't-you-proud-of-me? eagerness of tone than for their contents. Describing Janis's early life and influences, especially the high cultural and educational ideals of her parents, Joplin sometimes employs a tone of stuffy propriety that seems decidedly strange—after all, this is Janis Joplin she's describing. Getting into Janis's years at the Univ. of Texas, however, Joplin rises to the task. She debunks the tale that Janis was voted ``Ugly Man on Campus'' (she was nominated by friends, not detractors, and she didn't win). But Janis was plenty tormented and complex, and we get the impression that her life would have been all booze and unfocused angry rebellion and squalor if it hadn't been for Ken Threadgill, the Austin barkeep who recognized her extraordinary musical gifts and launched her career. Once in San Francisco, Janis teamed up with a ragged, soulful band called ``Big Brother and the Holding Company,'' and all her untamable demons channelled into her art. Her performances were electric. One West Coast critic called Janis a ``shaman woman,'' and Janis didn't disagree: ``I do believe in some very amorphous things that happen when you're onstage...like something moves in the air.'' At once narcissistic and sensitive, hard-driven and childlike, the Janis that emerges here was trapped by her ``get it while you can'' image—and she apparently thought heroin oblivion was her only way out. A thorough, restrained account of an extraordinary rise and fall. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-41605-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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...

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

Did you like this book?

DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

more