PAUL McCARTNEY

BEHIND THE MYTH

``Will you still love me when I'm 64?'' wrote Beatle Paul on the Sgt Pepper album (1967). ``Perhaps not,'' readers of this thoughtful biography may reply, especially if the McCartney (now 51) whom British journalist Benson presents doesn't soon loosen up a bit. Benson is no icon-smasher like Albert Goldman, but neither is he a hagiographer like McCartney's other recent biographer, Geoffrey Giuliano (Blackbird, 1991). Instead, he offers a well- informed (myriad interviews, including with McCartney), balanced portrait of the artist as a control-freak, though one with the courage of his convictions. The author traces McCartney's career from his working-class Liverpool upbringing through the Beatles and Wings years and into the present; given the publicity that's always surrounded McCartney, much of this is necessarily familiar fare— but Benson's psychological insights aren't: ``Paul McCartney's relationship with his father lies at the core of his personality and he has never perceived himself as anything less than a dutiful son.'' Benson's discussion of McCartney's recent life as a re- creation of his childhood backs up that statement: Though fabulously wealthy, the musician takes a public train and bus to his London office each day, then returns home to his children and wife Linda—who, upon his insistence, does all the family's cooking, laundering, and ironing. But the same ``need to control'' that's allowed McCartney to carve out a relatively normal life in the midst of pop-stardom has also, Benson says, led to his recent musical failures: ``McCartney shows no...willingness to surrender himself to outside musical direction....But without Lennon's cynicism on hand to define the parameters, his songs all too often drift into slushy sentimentality.'' Solid Beatleiana, to be set on the shelf alongside Alan Clayson's Ringo Starr (p. 823). (Forty b&w photographs.)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-575-05200-7

Page Count: 289

Publisher: Gollancz/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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