Takes a light, self-deprecating approach, injecting some comic relief into a calamitous experience with hair loss.

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Hell Toupee

MY RIDICULOUS YEAR WEARING A HAIR REPLACEMENT

A self-conscious funnyman recalls the series of stressful misfortunes that caused his unflattering hair loss.

Brooklyn comedian Friedman (Totally Tuneless, 2014) first noticed his thinning hair in the early ’80s after a succession of tragic events rattled his life. The domino effect of his parents’ bitter divorce, a breakup, and turning 30 all contributed to the author’s ever-expanding bald spot. Lamenting the incremental loss of what was once a “clownishly large natural...Jew-fro,” Friedman appealed to “Head Restart for Men.” The $1,500 treatments involved a series of visits to a Manhattan clinic where a toupee-like “hair system” was glued to Friedman’s head. A droll comedy of errors began at his office as the paranoid author was scrutinized by critical co-workers; then there was a snafu involving the clinic applying the wrong hairpiece to his scalp, adding insult to injury. Readers will sympathize with Friedman as he attempts to work his way up the New York improv comedy circuit with classes and auditions, only to be stymied by the daily high-maintenance routine required by his hair treatment. Interesting though unevenly distributed, Friedman’s book (its title is a classic Simpsons pun) is padded with anecdotes on his post-collegiate years traveling Europe, writing song lyrics, and looking for a girlfriend. As his stage star rose, Friedman eventually dispensed with his “pseudo-hair,” ushering in an epiphany that dissolved his insecurities and made room for personal renewal. He adds warmth and depth to eloquent details of a Jewish upbringing influenced by his father, an enthusiastic, egotistical salesman with a comb-over and an infectious sense of humor. Aside from baseball, a youthful obsession with Charlie Chaplin fueled Friedman’s interest in live-performance theatrical roles, which also offered a creative distraction from his embittered, divorcing parents. During his first years at college, his bald spot began spreading as Friedman experimented with marijuana, first love, and a disastrous attempt at selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners

Takes a light, self-deprecating approach, injecting some comic relief into a calamitous experience with hair loss. 

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9863008-0-6

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Lewis Avenue Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2015

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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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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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