The Brown Buffalo bellows from beyond the grave—and the roar resounds. Oscar ``Zeta'' Acosta is most widely remembered as the model for Hunter S. Thompson's drug-gobbling Samoan attorney in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a masterpiece of demented reportage. The Mexican-American civil rights lawyer and political activist disappeared in Mexico in 1974; Acosta's editor and biographer Stavans (Bandido: Oscar ``Zeta'' Acosta and the Chicano Experience, 1995) suggests that he died in an accident or was murdered, but, more tantalizingly, also offers the theory that Acosta may have simply decided to vanish south of the border to acquire an Ambrose Biercelike mystique. Acosta's previously published writings include two fine books, Revolt of the Cockroach People and Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo, as well as a handful of stories, articles, and letters. Stavans adds considerably to this stock with a sampling of Acosta's acid (that is to say, both lysergic-fueled and scathing), often howlingly funny poems, a quartet of roughly shaped short stories, and a play, all of which will be welcome to students of Chicano literature and Acosta fans. Especially valuable are a handful of brown-power pamphlets and a politically charged autobiographical essay in which Acosta addresses his fellow Mexican-Americans. ``You can't be a class or a nation without land,'' he asserts. ``We have to develop the consciousness of land as the principal issue just as three years ago we had to develop the consciousness of identity as the principal issue.'' Acosta reiterates, in a madcap letter to Playboy magazine, that he can rightfully claim coauthorship of the theory of ``Gonzo journalism,'' which Thompson rode to fame: ``These matters I point out not as a threat of legalities or etcetera but simply to inform you and to invite serious discussion on the subject.'' Stavans does service to Acosta's memory and to Chicano literature, with this collection.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-55885-099-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Arte Público

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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