The Pacific Northwest, as concept and reality, is the focus of this impressionistic, strangely seductive pastiche from lifelong area-resident Tisdale (The Sorcerer's Apprentice, 1986; Harvest Moon, 1987; Lot's Wife, 1988). The densely worded, unstructured narrative paints an ecological and spiritual portrait of a land often threatened by its most ardent admirers. Interwoven with historical records—including the testimony of explorers, pioneers, and the author herself—are accounts of the ways ``we destroy the land in order to inhabit it'': deforestation from logging; fishing and hunting to extinction; dams eradicating unique terrain and wildlife; the near- genocide of native tribes. But, ``seduced by this land,'' Tisdale is at her most impassioned in depicting forests, mountains, and waterways—which seem more alive here than the people who traverse them. They are seen as epic, not only in size (Douglas firs with ``more needles than this country has people,'' mountains equal in volume to one-trillion six-foot men), but also in the rhythms of existence, such as the ``climax forest,'' which, ``left alone...will pulse its own slow pulse, exhale its own slow breath, forever.'' At times, the lush, overheated prose makes for difficult reading, yet it works admirably in reflecting the bounty of the area. And, refreshingly, Tisdale, an admitted ``tree hugger,'' does little ecological lecturing, preferring to let her tale of nature caught in a fragile balance with civilization convey its own message. An odd and lovely work for partisans of the region and nature- lovers in general.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 1991

ISBN: 0-8050-1353-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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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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