INTO THE TWILIGHT, ENDLESSLY GROUSING

There are, we know, regular woodland verities: the cry of a loon across a lake, the bellow of an elk on a starlit mountain, and various other calls of nature. Add to the list of recurrent natural events the humorous essays of McManus (How I Got This Way, 1994, etc.), the resident clown/scholar of Outdoor Life. McManus is ably supported in his less-than-credible buffoonery and outdoor adventures by a long-running stock company of rubes, including Rancid Crabtree, Eddie Muldoon, and Retch Sweeney. His droll essays remain generally entertaining and slick, though there are some signs of immoderate literary heavy-lifting in his 13th collection. Mountain man Crabtree's hillbilly dialect seems to be thickening sufficiently to double for the vaudeville patois of Dogpatch. There are times when McManus's comic descriptions of hunting and fishing pratfalls seem forced. Readers may be surprised by the more wistful tone of some of the recent tales by our hayseed Hemingway. There is, for example, a sweet elegy on angling for the dream fish. The elegiac tone is most evident in McManus's reveries of his idyllic (if disaster-prone) childhood during the Depression. Judging by the recollections included here, one may reasonably surmise that his childhood resembled that of the ``Little Rascals,'' including a scrappy gang of friends and a nubile teacher with dimpled knees. Only rarely does Pat let a fact get in the way of his musings. One occasion: He was once hired as a university English instructor. That, he hastens to reassure us before we begin to take him too seriously, was ``solely on the basis that I smoked a pipe.'' It may be that after another dozen or so books like this, old Pat's cow won't milk any more. Meanwhile, more huntin' and fishin' country humor for old fans and new urban owners of utility vehicles. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-84440-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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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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