A compelling argument that ``far from being irrational, the emotions have a logic of their own,'' and some advice on how to identify and change counterproductive emotional patterns. According to retired psychology professor Richard Lazarus (Emotion and Adaptation, not reviewed) and his wife, a freelance writer, we feel an emotion when ``we are motivated to gain something or prevent something unwanted from happening.'' Emotions, they argue, are intimately linked to our ability to appraise and interpret actions and events, so it is no accident that humans are both the most intelligent and the most emotional of animals. Each of our emotions, furthermore, has ``a distinctive dramatic plot'': Anger stems from perceiving something as an unfair slight, sadness from experiencing an irrevocable loss, happiness from making progress toward attaining a goal, and so on. Biology hardwires emotions in us; culture acts as our software, programming certain acts to trigger each emotion and teaching us how—or whether—that emotion should be expressed. Differences in personality and experience complete the program, giving each individual a distinct emotional configuration. The authors supply practical advice on when it is best to express emotion and when it is best to suppress it, along with examples of how to do both. For example, in an instance of being angered by one's spouse, they suggest reinterpreting the event to lessen the distress it evokes; one might excuse the spouse's insensitive behavior as being the result of exhaustion or stress. The authors discuss various psychotherapy options for those who need extra help in regulating their emotions. And in sketchier, less convincing chapters, they explore stress and the possible influence of emotional states on physical health. For the most part a helpful, clearly written user's guide to the human emotions.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-508757-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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