TENDER COMRADES

A BACKSTORY OF THE BLACKLIST

A massive, slow-moving oral history of 30-plus Hollywood blacklistees. The Hollywood blacklist starred few heroes and far too many villains. The latter range from the studios and networks that illegally abetted the blacklist to those who ``named names'' to many blacklistees themselves, staunch Stalinist ideologues who would have gladly extirpated any opposition if the tables had been turned. The real victims were those whose left-wing ties provided the thinnest pretext for informers to trap them in the mad gyre. This collection presents a wide range of blacklistees, from a few of the more well known, such as Martin Ritt, Jules Dassin, and Ring Lardner Jr., to a large number of the obscure and marginal, most of them writers. Because the subjects tell their own lives in their own words, this leads to both an idiosyncratic freshness as well as a lack of focus, with opinion and anecdote substituting for depth. Also, with many interviews, the blacklist is only a small component, and we are treated to biographical minutiae of extremely minor figures (some with only a handful or less of films to their name). Even die-hard film and blacklist buffs will find their patience tried. McGilligan (Fritz Lang, 1997, etc.) and veteran oral historian Buhle know their material well, but their questions tend to be facile and unrevealing. But though this book is almost impossible to read cover to cover, it is interesting to see just how varied the experiences of blacklistees were. Some fled to Europe or Mexico and built careers there; some used ``fronts,'' or pseudonyms; some got out of the biz. Some have forgiven their tormentors, some bear deep grievances. But the careers of all of them were seriously damaged by the experience: Perhaps this explains why so many of these interviewees are not household names. Invaluable source material, but much more than the ordinary reader wants or needs to know. (32 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1997

ISBN: 0-312-17046-7

Page Count: 800

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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