Seasoned with wit, though, it has legs enough for enthusiasts who may be thrilled to learn that there’s actually a Grenache...

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VIRGILE’S VINEYARD

A YEAR IN THE LANGUEDOC WINE COUNTRY

An Englishman crosses the Channel to spend a year in the vineyards of France. Overcoming the traditional Briton’s bewilderment at sunshine, he learns a bit about the quaint locals and an awful lot about oenology.

No, it’s not Peter Mayle, but erstwhile lawyer and first-time author Moon, who inherits Uncle Milo’s place in the southern region of Languedoc. The house is picturesque in a derelict sort of way, the vines neglected. The neighbors are sufficiently—as always—colorful to have been cast in an old Ealing comedy. Meet Manu, an imbibing, poaching rascal, and his fierce spouse. Waitress Babette is comely and bright. English historian Krystina teaches our pioneer some local history and seems quite eager to make some more with him despite his lack of enthusiasm for a bit of a romp. Virgile, the earnest winemaker, teaches the author what must surely be just about everything, from grape to glass, about the art and practice of viticulture. Virgile, in his cave, is immersed in wine—and at one point quite literally. He pulls out all the corks in relating the manifold tests and tribulations necessary to produce a product with exactly the right nose and body, a wine far different from Manu’s dreaded house red. Tastings include Virgile’s Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache Noir, then samplings of the local Picpoul, Mourvèdre, and Cincault. With truffles, trout, snakes, bees, and the Occitan language as adjunct studies, the author’s principal course in wine lore covers varietals, the vendange, and the sometimes baleful influence of the zodiac, the Romans, and the Appellation Contrôlée authorities. None of it is enough to faze Moon in his report on what he did on his vacation. With all the focus on French wine aesthetics, this isn’t designed for teetotalers or Francophobes (see John J. Miller and Mark Molesky’s Our Oldest Enemy, above).

Seasoned with wit, though, it has legs enough for enthusiasts who may be thrilled to learn that there’s actually a Grenache Blanc. (Map and line drawings)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7195-6517-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: John Murray/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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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