An enjoyable collection of zaniness best read in small doses.

READ REVIEW

YOUR WILDEST DREAMS, WITHIN REASON

A comical collection of essays, illustrations and one-liners.

Humor writer and Vanity Fair staffer Sacks (And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft, 2009, etc.) opens with a warning: “The vast majority of these short humor pieces—or the random list, the occasional illustration, other effluvia—have absolutely nothing to do with each other. There is no overarching theme, no recurring characters, nothing that links one piece to another.” It’s an accurate assessment. The collection veers in various directions, many of the pieces involving the author taking on personas to match the lunacy of the prose. One of the more successful personas is Rhon Penny (“silent h”), a wanna-be writer soliciting literary giants for blurbs and collaborative projects: “My publisher/mother tells me a top-notch blurb can mean the difference between Harry Potter-type sales and Harry Stottleberg-type sales (a guy who lives in our building).” Equally enjoyable are Sacks' lists—e.g., “Signs Your College Is Not Very Prestigious,” which include, “Has NCAA’s only cockfighting program” and, “Provost walks around campus with a Burmese python around his neck.” His list “Reasons You’re Still Single” includes such gems as “Perform yoga in parks” and “Carry an NPR Fresh Air tote bag.” Much of Sacks' humor hinges on the reader's willingness to take leaps, to laugh about what is not said, or what is implied. In “When Making Love To Me: What Every Woman Needs To Know,” the author writes, “Love me for who I am and not for what I just did to your armpit.” While Sacks' odd-ball humor is often irreverent, it is never irrelevant. There appears to be some strange care taken in every piece.

An enjoyable collection of zaniness best read in small doses.

Pub Date: March 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-935639-02-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Tin House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more