SLIGHTLY FOXED--BUT STILL DESIRABLE

Satirical artist, cartoonist, and wit Searle is also, alas for him, a bibliophile. And that has made him dependent on booksellers' catalogues, some of which have made Searle a sucker. ``Ordering from a bookseller's catalogue without speaking the specialist language,'' he writes, ``is about as dangerous as trying to chat up the promised-in-marriage daughter of a Corsican tax inspector, and the retribution about as swift.'' And so, to clarify matters, Searle offers a cartoon for each of a variety of obscure bookseller's terms. ``Numerous critical marginal notes in a contemporary hand'' is illustrated by an enraged philosophe, wearing what appears to be some 18th-century equivalent of baseball spikes, leaping on a mangled book. Some legends, like ``Lovingly thumbed by former owner'' and ``Unwashed, with only slight marginal soiling,'' are illustrated with images of people rather than books- -in these cases, suitably disheveled-looking people. Searle, with a penchant for placing legs where arms should be and attaching hands to ankles, draws like Dr. Seuss for grown-ups. At the end is a text-only glossary, but those wishing for straight answers should know better. Searle defines ``Tail-edge shaved'' as ``A book's bottom adjusted to fit a high cut bathing costume.''

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-285-62945-X

Page Count: 128

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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