DON'T LOOK BACK

A MEMOIR

An often moving collection of colophon-length musings and amusements by New York paperback-editor/anthologist/poet O'Connor (former editor-in-chief of Popular Library, Washington Square Press, and Pinnacle Books). Though O'Connor writes about his love of Broadway musicals, plays, and ballet, his main interest lies in recounting meetings with famed authors and publishing folk; his dodges for slipping favorite books into print; his skiing prowess on nitroglycerin pills; his feeble mastery of bridge by which he won notices in a tournament presided over by Ely Culbertson; and tales about his enormous infatuation with New York. He comes from Braddock, Pennsylvania, where, he says, few people could spell Petrouchka, much less hum it. While O'Connor worked as an assistant agent at MCA, a dramatic rush call came in from actor/client Darren McGavin for a baby-sitter. Stumped, O'Connor phoned Mr. and Mrs. Boris Karloff, who lived in McGavin's building, begging them to go down to the McGavins' room. McGavin's face was ``a sight to behold,'' said Mrs. McGavin, when Darren opened his door and the player of the Frankenstein monster introduced himself as the evening's baby sitter for the actor's two little daughters. Then we have O'Connor prepping himself on the entire works of Ayn Rand when NAL made him her editor, and her smiling question over dinner if he'd not once called her ``the writer of the best juveniles in America?'' The odyssey of O'Connor getting E.F. Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels into reprint by falsely announcing that Masterpiece Theatre would be filming them is also not to be missed. Great fun.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 1-55921-098-2

Page Count: 140

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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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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