CHAUTAUQUA SUMMER

ADVENTURES OF A LATE 20TH CENTURY VAUDEVILLIAN

Depressing report of life in a hippie vaudeville caravan. According to trapeze-artist Chace, ``Chautauqua'' is the old-fashioned name for vaudeville tent-shows that toured America around the turn of the century. The shows died out when movies came around—that is, until the Flying Karamazov Brothers resurrected a Chautauqua in 1969 in the Pacific Northwest. Chace stumbled upon the caravan after years of independent vaudeville work in N.Y.C. and Paris as a tumbler, juggler, and tap dancer. Chautauqua offers all she desires: a vaudeville family; the chance to rub elbows with the best performers around; a romance with the group's founder, Paul Magid, a.k.a. Dmitri Karamazov. Chace burrows in as the troupe meanders through the summer from one small town to another, scaring or amusing the local populace, camping on land owned by Dugout Dick, The Hooey Man, and other unrepentant hippies. It's ``all very tribal,'' Chace reports: The group enjoys pseudo-Native American rituals; pointless gatherings (``the Circle turned into a meeting that lasted four hours. Most of that time was spent discussing whether or not we were having a `meeting' or a `Circle' ''); petty jealousies. The performers—Magical Mystical Michael (magician), Artis the Spoonman (musician), Toes Tiranoff (tap dancer), et al.- -wow the crowds with first-rate routines. Dmitri has it out with his estranged wife; someone puts garlic in the chewing gum; the starry-eyed troupe drops its pants to moon the moon. These juvenile antics are related in a flat voice almost devoid of affect: The few moments of intense emotion sound so contrived (``I could taste her pain in my mouth as the tears ran down my throat'') that they may provoke laughter rather than empathy. If this is vaudeville, it's easy to see why the Great Ones- -Will Rogers, Ed Wynn, Jack Benny, and the like—opted for the movies. About as appealing as a pie in the face.

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-15-117011-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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