Fantastically successful travel propaganda.




An achingly seductive love letter to Brazil’s most famous city.

The fifth entry in Bloomsbury’s The Writer and the City series paints a portrait of a land where the sun always shines and the contented inhabitants never lose their cool. Tracing Rio’s evolution from its origins as the home of the Guanabara Indians through its current-day incarnation as the world’s biggest party town, Brazilian journalist Castro walks the reader through the cultural and historical high points of the place he’s very pleased to call home. Beginning with Vespucci’s arrival at Rio’s shores in 1502, the author runs through the successive waves of colonizers and immigrants who, having found Rio, couldn’t bear to leave it. The French and the Portuguese, the pirates of every nationality, the slaves who were brought in to work Brazil’s plantations but at least had the fortune to remain in the city—Castro traces their influence on Rio’s culture and particularly on Carnival, that enormous industry that supports countless bead manufacturers and ostrich-feather merchants. The author expounds on the festival’s roots, its heroes, its profound impact on the philosophy of Rio’s inhabitants, and the strange rise of the perfume atomizer as a mid-century drug of choice at Carnival time. He also explores Rio’s rich musical tradition, with special focus on “The Girl from Ipanema,” as well as Ipanema itself and the women who inspired the song. The female is celebrated throughout Castro’s work, in fact, and in keeping with the theme of Rio’s serious appreciation of frivolity, he attributes women’s liberation in Brazil to the adoption of French fashion in the 1800s: staying à la mode required the ladies to leave their male-run households in order to visit the modistes. Castro makes only the briefest mention of the city’s dire poverty and organized crime; his is a glorious fantasy of his ideal hometown.

Fantastically successful travel propaganda.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7475-7331-X

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2004

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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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