A reminder that many fascinating folk reside on Memory Lane.

READ REVIEW

REPORTING BACK

NOTES ON JOURNALISM

With generous selections from a half-century’s work, veteran New Yorker reporter Ross (Here But Not Here, 1998, etc.) reflects on writing, celebrities, her career, friends, and family.

The author waxes both didactic and nostalgic in this genial hybrid of a volume. Part anthology, part memoir, part reporter’s handbook, part stargazing, this neither challenges nor offends and for the most part instructs and delights. It begins with Ross’s tributes to her principal influences, including Turgenev, Salinger, Hemingway, editor William Shawn, and her older sister Helen, whom Ross thanks very early on—and in the last sentence. She discusses her professional habits and principles: never use a tape recorder, write as clearly as possible, select only subjects of personal interest, employ as much dialogue as possible. When it all falls together well, she states, “It’s sort of like having sex.” Ross declines to enter the debate about the “old” New Yorker vs. the “new”; she loved Old Guard (Shawn, Harold Ross—no relation), and she has flattering things to say about former and current editors Tina Brown and David Remnick. In fact, it’s hard to find a discouraging word anywhere. The author divides her text loosely, a happy decision that permits her to revisit old stories and old friends on her own terms. Thus we read about a wide variety of personalities, from Adlai Stevenson (whom she greatly admired) to Bill Clinton (“I loved him and let him know it”) to Robert Kennedy, John McEnroe, Benny Goodman, Norman Mailer, John and Anjelica Huston, Charlie Chaplin, Lorraine Hansberry, Sidney Poitier, the Redgraves, Robin Williams, Lorne Michaels, Francis Ford Coppola, and others. Most of the previously published selections are short, and Ross provides interesting commentary about each piece and its subject. “Facts are wondrous things,” she concludes. “When you stick to them, no other writing can beat reporting.”

A reminder that many fascinating folk reside on Memory Lane.

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58243-109-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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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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