MADAME JAZZ

CONTEMPORARY WOMEN INSTRUMENTALISTS

A major disappointment from a well-known authority on jazz. Gourse (Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan, 1993, etc.) starts with a noble premise: that women are becoming increasingly visible in contemporary jazz, despite lingering prejudice against them as performers, particularly as instrumentalists. However, this hodge- podge, which appears to be assembled from old interviews, barely does justice to the many fine female performers whom Gourse hopes to celebrate. The book is divided into three sections. In the first part, Gourse discusses the general status of women in jazz today, jumping from player to player and anecdote to anecdote, making for at best a jumbled narrative. In part two, she profiles specific players; many of these chapters read like magazine profiles or liner notes, some several years old, with updates tacked on like Post-it notes. The final section is a catalog of women performers, some profiled in the book, some not, serving as a kind of mini- dictionary of jazz players. Despite the book's pro-female stance, Gourse manages to repeat several old myths from the male-dominated jazz press, including such whoppers as ``few women play jazz guitar because it takes such strength to play'' (based on two false assumptions: that women lack strength and that it takes enormous effort to play a modern, amplified guitar). And although Gourse is celebrating women as musicians who can compete head-to-head with men, she insists on describing each performer's physical attractions, as if this were a Miss Jazz America contest (``Men in the audience were particularly charmed by the slender, attractive multi-instrumentalist who could also sing'' is her description of baritone saxophonist Carol Sudhalter; stride pianist Judy Carmichael is described as ``a slender woman with cascades of blonde ringlets and a peaches-and-cream complexion''; even elder stateswoman Marian McPartland is complimented on ``her trim figure''). Gourse fails the very women to whom she is attempting to pay tribute. (32 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508696-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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