Elegantly soulful and uplifting.




The eloquent account of a Western poet’s encounters with the land, culture and people of Iran.

When Housden (Ten Poems to Change Your Life, 2007, etc.) was a young man living in London in the early 1970s, he fell profoundly and permanently in love with Iranian literature, music, art and architecture. His vision of and attachment to Iran were highly idealized, however, based on second-hand cultural experiences that were “never tested by reality.” In 2007, as he was casting about for his next writing project, he had a flash of intuition. He would undertake an exploration of “the other Iran,” the country behind the politics and sensationalist headlines. The guides along this journey would include Rumi, the Persian mystic poet he had held close to his heart since youth; outspoken artists, thinkers, politicians and spiritual leaders; and everyday men and women. In his travels across Iran, Housden discovered a vibrant country made all the livelier by its abundant internal contradictions. Though austere on the surface with its apparent adherence to the fundamentalist tenets of Islam, Iran was a place where anything—from alcohol, Western films, drugs and sex—could be “delivered like a pizza” and where nose jobs and “Elvis haircuts” were the most popular and pervasive forms of social rebellion. At the same time, it was also a place steeped in tradition and a magnificent history that had deeply impacted the cultural and religious development of the West. But most movingly of all for Housden, a self-proclaimed romantic, Iran was where “Beauty [was] one of the names for God.”

Elegantly soulful and uplifting.

Pub Date: May 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-58773-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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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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