Incomplete but lovely nonetheless. Admirers of Fermor’s writing will not be disappointed.

READ REVIEW

THE BROKEN ROAD

FROM THE IRON GATES TO MOUNT ATHOS

A posthumous completion of an adventure British author and adventurer Fermor (1915–2011) began more than 70 years ago: a walk from Holland to Istanbul.

In 1933, then 18, “Paddy” Fermor—the subject of co-editor Artemis Cooper’s biography Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure (2013)—set out on that long trek. As he recounted in A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1986), both written half a century later, he encountered all sorts of people, not least of them the Nazis and nationalists who would soon set Europe aflame, whereupon Fermor began a guerrilla life that James Bond would have envied. When he died, he left behind bits and pieces of this closing volume. Why he never completed it is a mystery; as Cooper and co-editor Colin Thubron observe, “The problem remained obscure even to him, and The Broken Road is only its partial resolution.” On reading it, one wishes that Fermor, a fluent and supremely literate writer, had spent more time in closure; the book seems a touch unfinished and not quite up to its predecessors. Even so, he is in fine form as he travels from the Iron Gates of Bulgaria toward his destination, meeting a succession of beguiling women and, as ever, being in the right place at the right time. As readers will learn, the title of the book is just right; and if Fermor encountered endless obstacles as well, his enthusiasm for description and discovery remain undiminished, as he recounts the ethnographic and historical details of life in the Balkans: “When their crust of frowning aloofness is broken, and their guard down and the maddening banter lulled, they are often spontaneous, enthusiastic and—despite the opposite intention—extremely naïve and transparently innocent”; “Brandy in large quantities pumped in a fresh impetus, which was hardly needed by this time, and we danced and sang.”

Incomplete but lovely nonetheless. Admirers of Fermor’s writing will not be disappointed.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59017-754-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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