An all-star cast produces a mostly rewarding collection.

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THE LINEUP

THE WORLD’S GREATEST CRIME WRITERS TELL THE INSIDE STORY OF THEIR GREATEST DETECTIVES

Profiles of fiction’s leading sleuths originally published individually for patrons of editor Penzler’s (Black Noir, 2009, etc.) Mysterious Bookshop.

The most notable feature of the collection is the variety of approaches taken by the contributors. Michael Connelly is thematic and evocative in tracing Harry Bosch’s sources, Lee Child pragmatic and market-driven in explaining Jack Reacher’s. Ian Rankin roots John Rebus in his study of English literature; John Harvey roots Charlie Resnick in genre conventions; John Connolly reflects on the ways Charlie Parker combines the two. Stephen Hunter confesses his temptation to swipe the plot for Bob Lee Swagger’s debut; John Lescroart recalls his early struggles to make it as a writer; Colin Dexter answers FAQ about Inspector Morse on the page and television. David Morrell takes a sober Canadian view of Rambo’s origins in the Vietnam War–era counterculture; Alexander McCall Smith pens a love letter to Precious Ramotswe’s Botswana. Faye Kellerman considers the biographical links between herself and Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker, while Jonathan Kellerman embroiders on the observation, “People talk to me; I listen.” Ken Bruen and Carol O’Connell produce stylistic pastiches of their novels, and Robert Crais maintains that Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are always with him. Robert B. Parker, Anne Perry, Jeffery Deaver, Laura Lippman and Ridley Pearson all fictionalize their profiles in distinctive, utterly characteristic ways. Most entertaining is Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s dialogue on Aloysius X.L. Pendergast, whose relaxed back-and-forth brings not only the hero but the collaborative process of writing to life.

An all-star cast produces a mostly rewarding collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-03193-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2009

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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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