With wide-ranging research and her bull's-eye wit, New York Newsday columnist Lord celebrates as she satirizes the myth and magic, the life and times of Mattel's immortal girl toy. Barbie was born in 1959, the product of a confluence of factors: postwar America's booming marketplace for boomer children, conflicting ideas about women, and the revolution in plastics. Lord's account covers two aspects of Barbie's nature: ``doll-as- physical-object'' and ``doll-as-invented-personality.'' The story of Barbie as physical object is a coming-of-age story involving the rise (thanks to entrepreneurial chutzpah) and fall (resulting from SEC violations) of Barbie's inventor, Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler. It touches on international trade (Barbie's first dress designer, Seventh Avenue denizen Charlotte Johnson, spent a year in Tokyo overseeing the creation of the doll's original 22 outfits), unprecented industry expansion as evidenced by Mattel's growth, and innovations in advertising, merchandising, and promotion, such as motivational researcher Ernest Dichter's early study of Barbie's appeal to girls and their mothers (Barbie ``could be a cute decoration for a man's bar,'' said one unenthusiastic mother). The story of Barbie as invented personality—the promotional brainstorm that created Barbie's persona as a living female—is a coming-of-a- new-age story. It involves the increasingly dissonant notions about woman's power and place, as well as growing racial and ethnic awareness. Barbie's voluptuous body, says Lord, along with her various incarnations, including fashion model and photographer, made her a ``brave, new, vaguely selfish and decidedly subversive heroine'' in the mold of Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl. Barbie never had a husband; she earned her own keep and always wore a smile (and a fabulous outfit). True, Mattel introduced a boyfriend for her in 1961, but Ken ``was a mere accessory,'' Lord cracks, ``a drip with seriously abridged genitalia who wasn't very important in her life.'' Lord's intelligence and good humor bring a new attitude to feminist visions of popular culture and the women who love it. (65 photos, 15 in color, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-12296-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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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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