Oermann effectively bridges the gap between the country music giants of yore and today’s stars, such as the Dixie Chicks,...

READ REVIEW

A CENTURY OF COUNTRY

AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF COUNTRY MUSIC

Nashville-based critic Oermann, one of journalism’s best known authorities on country music, takes an ambitious look at the genre’s evolution from its hillbilly origins at the turn of the century to the mainstream success it is today.

His chronicle begins, appropriately enough, in 1900, when, according to Oermann, the New York Journal became the first publication to use the word “hillbilly” in print. Oermann takes his time explaining the origins of the hillbilly culture, and while this material creates a strong reference point for the development of country music, the opening chapter bogs down in minutiae. Oermann more than atones for the dryness, however, as the century and his chronology progress and the characters become more colorful, from Jimmie Rodgers (“ ‘We thinks about Elvis and the thousands of people that would mob Elvis. But back in 1933, it was like that with Jimmie Rodgers,’ said BoxCar Willie”) to the Grand Ole Opry, which began on December 26, 1925 on WSM radio. Obviously, there are certain giants of country—Hank Williams and Patsy Cline—who deserve more attention, but who have also been written about repeatedly. Oermann does a good job of them their due while coming up with something new. He starts the passage about Williams by writing, “Hank Williams was honky-tonk music’s tortured genius.” To put in perspective the unparalleled influence Williams had on country, Oermann cites Don Helms, Jimmy Dickens, and several other musicians. Of Cline, Oermann says, “She remains the voice against which all other female country singers must measure themselves.” To hear what many of today’s contemporary stars, including Kathy Mattea and Shelby Lynne, have to say of Cline is especially intriguing.

Oermann effectively bridges the gap between the country music giants of yore and today’s stars, such as the Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, and Garth Brooks. (Over 200 b&w and color photos)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1999

ISBN: 1-57500-083-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more