DUBIOUS HONORS

From a writer now 80 years old, whose real subject whatever the topic at hand has been her own experiences of food, place, and appreciative living, comes a gathering of what she acknowledges to be her most "personal and nostalgic" pieces: the prefaces she wrote to her own books and others, complete with even more personal and nostalgic prefaces-to-the-prefaces that were composed for this edition. Read together, these layers of cordial reminiscence make up an impressionistic autobiography that glances off such encountered phenomena (and purported subjects) as Maurice Chevalier, the Gare de Lyon in Paris, or the "delicate pagentry" of Japanese cooking. (ln a twist, the burden of one preface, to The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, is how Fisher never did encounter Toklas.) Bread, wine, cities, towns, age: to Fisher, all are inextricably and candidly entwined with particular occasions, companions, childhood treats, or personal tastes. Tea? It "makes me drunk." Jane and Michael Stern's Square Meals? "I really liked their two [earlier] books better." Angelo Pelligrini's The Unprejudiced Palate? Reminds her of the time they met as wine tasters, when Pelligrini showed up enraged that he was paired with a woman, and Fisher, the first of her sex to be appointed to the panel, fretted about having to follow the custom of spitting between tastes. Friends by the end of the session, "we spat in unison into the suddenly attractive puddle of fruit juice and water we shared, and a newspaper paparazzo from Los Angeles shot our jets meeting in midair just above the bucket." Just so does Fisher memorialize the moment's bond or pleasure, in her elegant spring-water prose that is itself a considerable pleasure.

Pub Date: May 18, 1988

ISBN: 0865474141

Page Count: 218

Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1988

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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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