Reads like an enthusiastic (often fun, but rambling) 200-page college newspaper article.

READ REVIEW

RAT SALAD

BLACK SABBATH, THE CLASSIC YEARS, 1969-1975

Remember when Ozzy Osbourne was a pretty good metalhead, not a henpecked reality-show goofball? Paul Wilkinson does.

Fronted by the charismatic Osbourne, Black Sabbath was one of the first successful purveyors of heavy metal. Although Sabbath later devolved into a rock-‘n’-roll parody (can you say Spinal Tap?), during its early years the U.K. four-man band could destroy your speakers with as much aplomb as any group of the era save Led Zeppelin. In his engaging debut, Brit scribe/musician Wilkinson takes a loving look at the group’s first six albums: Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage. He makes a convincing case that these are indeed classics with in-depth, often hilarious dissection of the records that alternate with chapters featuring Sabbath history, British history and personal history. It’s risky for an author to work himself into a biography such as this, but Wilkinson is a charmer, armed with anecdotes galore (e.g., the night his 15-year-old babysitter attempted to seduce him). As the author is also a guitarist, it makes sense that he gives many props to Tony Iommi, “often hailed as the greatest ever composer of guitar riffs.” Non-musicians may find Wilkinson’s song-by-song analysis a tad on the geeky side, but he remedies that (sort of) by including a glossary of “all the fancy technical nomenclature used in this book.” (Betcha didn’t know the end of “War Pigs” provides an example of accelerando.) At times, the book buckles under the weight of minutiae: Do we really need to know Sabbath’s entire tour schedule from April 1970? We trust the author will avoid this rookie mistake in the future.

Reads like an enthusiastic (often fun, but rambling) 200-page college newspaper article.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36723-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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