Autobiographical fluff for opera aficionados interested in knowing a bit—but not too much—about the life of one of America’s popular baritones. Just as baritones never win the woman in operas, they rarely get the attention afforded tenors. Who has ever heard of a Three Baritones concert? Milnes’s autobiography attempts to right that wrong regarding his own life. He begins with his experiences as a farm boy outside Chicago. Milnes was a relative latecomer to serious vocal music study. He began in high school, although he—d been studying violin and singing in his mother’s church choir since elementary school. By his college years, it was clear that music also lay in Milnes’s future. He auditioned for parts in regional opera groups, such as Boris Goldovsky’s Opera Theatre, and gradually made his way to the Metropolitan Opera, where he sang regularly for just over 30 years. During that period, which included appearances in operas around the world and an extensive recital schedule, Milnes sang with many of the best, including Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Placido Domingo, and Beverly Sills. Unfortunately, though, this meandering book is rather short on details. Meandering how? A page about the teenage Milnes heading off to a brothel is followed by several paragraphs on the trials of having a “girl’s” first name. As for the absent details, his two failed marriages are dismissed in a we-grew-apart sentence or two. Comments on colleagues are fairly superficial and do little to shed light on the world behind the opera curtain. The author has included a performance chronology of his debuts and key performances, as well as a discography. What could have been Wagnerian in scope ends up instead as the literary equivalent of a Top 40 tune. (50 illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-02-864739-4

Page Count: 300

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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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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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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