Though an entire book could be devoted to Hemingway's ambition or the cultivation of his popular persona, Leff's truncated work is too much a biographical recap. ``I want, like hell, to get published,'' the unknown Parisian expatriate confessed to a correspondent in 1923, long before he would become America's greatest authorial personality. Leff (Film and Literature/Oklahoma State Univ.) suggests that to do so, Hemingway made a Faustian deal with popular culture, ``cultivat[ing] publicity even as he pretended to scorn it''—the kind of publicity available through having bestsellers, serializing in Scribner's magazine, and selling rights to the Book-of-the-Month Club, Broadway, and Hollywood. Hemingway's career began as the all-American cult of personality was born, promoted by Time magazine, radio, and the movie industry. Leff brings up some interesting points, such as Time's puffing of the new author's image as an adventurer in its review of In Our Time, or the parallel reviewers drew (to Hemingwya's annoyance) between the nymphomaniac heroine of the cheaply bestselling The Green Hat and Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises. Mostly, Leff sticks close to familiar biographical material rather than analyzing the context, or the apparatuses, of Hemingway's rise to prominence. Leff, the author of studies on movie mogul David O. Selznick and Hayes-era censorship, does better toward his book's end, discussing the production of the 1932 film version of A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway was irritated to see studio PR rehashing the inaccuracies of his legend, but he was also taken in by Gary Cooper playing Frederic Henry, who was based, of course, on Ernest Hemingway. However, at the point where novelist's fame is secured, Leff abruptly leaves off, compressing the rest of his life into an afterword, almost impatient for the author to ride off into immortality. (illustrations not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8476-8544-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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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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