A mostly superfluous volume that will nonetheless appeal to fans of the scene.

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JAMERICA

THE HISTORY OF THE JAM BAND AND FESTIVAL SCENE

A meandering oral history of the modern jam-band landscape.

Conners (White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg, 2010, etc.) is no stranger to these misty mountain hops, having already chronicled his latter-day tenure as a Deadhead in his memoir, Growing Up Dead (2009). Here, the author borrows the oral history form of history-making championed by the likes of Legs McNeil and dozens of lesser rock ’n’ roll historians. Although the narrative does get us, finally, to the present day, the book is very much rooted in the post–Jerry Garcia vacuum of the early 1990s, into which countless improvisational musicians stepped. Speaking of the infamous H.O.R.D.E. festival that originated in 1992, John Popper of Blues Traveler says, “We wanted to call it Lollapatchouli. But we wanted people to take it seriously, and my fantasy, being into Attila the Hun, was: it’s a cold day someplace in Kansas when, in from the south, comes Widespread Panic Fans consuming everything in their way, and from the north are Phish fans, and from the east comes Blues Traveler, and from the west comes Béla Fleck.” Conners includes interviews with all of these and more, including festival icon Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction and Mickey Hart and Bob Weir from the Dead. Some of the other bright lights, like Trey Anastasio of the seminal (and cult-inspiring) jam band Phish, seem to have been conveniently plucked from interviews in magazines like High Times. There’s some substance here in the debate over concert recordings, but Conners guides most of the conversations to talking about the vibe, that mystic connection between fans that may be lost on anyone who isn’t a serious devotee of this scene. A coda of comments from fans with bon mots like “Festivals are church for the open minded” ends the book, for better or worse.

A mostly superfluous volume that will nonetheless appeal to fans of the scene.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82066-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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