A Bronx Family Court judge recounts his first full day on the bench, improvising his way through 57 blood- and tear-stained cases. When Judge Ross ascended to the Family Court bench in 1991 at age 47, he left behind a successful career in court administration. Appointment to the bench would be, he thought, ``the crown'' of his career, but it proved to be eerily isolating, as he discovered while settling into his new courtroom (in New York judicial parlance, a ``part''), a tiny, decrepit converted records storage room he dubs ``Part 15.'' There's no honeymoon for Judge Ross: Within minutes of robing, he's dispensing instant justice to the ``jammed-up lives'' that come before his creaky bench, issuing temporary orders of protection from violent spouses, removing children from crack-infested homes, assessing allegations of pedophilia in nasty custody battles. The incessant parade of unhappy families leaves Ross scant time to reflect: ``Decide and move on,'' he tells himself. Besides, ``it's an imperfect world and you're an imperfect judge.'' Ross's complacent attitude may possibly save him from bench-burnout, but it makes for a shallow, rather pointless memoir. A few of his cases are particularly haunting, such as that of the eight-year-old girl sexually abused by her grandfather, and the case of the four-year old cerebral- palsy patient tortured by her adoptive parents, but all Ross offers in the way of jurisprudence is a tip of the hat to due process of law and a pledge to take abused children out of abusive homes: ``The law requires it: end of story.'' The frequent use of civil- service jargon lends authenticity but also obfuscation. ``Had justice been done?. . . . I wasn't asking,'' writes Ross at the end of his day. And he still isn't.

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-56858-089-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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.


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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