Further entertaining testimony from a music journalist whose writing pulsates with the same blues rhythms as the soil and...

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RED HOT AND BLUE

FIFTY YEARS OF WRITING ABOUT MEMPHIS, MUSIC, AND MOTHERF**KERS

Five decades of writing from one of the foremost chroniclers of the blues and other Southern music.

Memphis-based music journalist Booth (Keith: Standing in the Shadows, 1996, etc.) has been immersed in jazz, blues, rock, and other genres since he was a child. The blues, in particular, reverberate throughout Booth’s writing, underscoring the inseparability of his life and body of work. “I never intended to have anything to do with the blues,” he writes. “They came into my life through my bedroom window when I was a child. It wasn’t a matter of choice. What I learned I paid for in experience at the school where they arrest you first and tell you why later.” In this new anthology, the author offers a slew of highly personal dispatches that reflect much of the best of his writing. Plunging in with a humorous—somewhat salty—indictment of contemporary music journalism, so-called authorities on American musical traditions, and the slick treatment of the blues by modern media, Booth stakes his ground, imparting the value of essence over image in music writing. Including recent essays on Ma Rainey and Blind Willie McTell and winding through reprints of his now-iconic pieces “Furry’s Blues” and “Situation Report: Elvis in Memphis, 1967,” the volume features 29 articles of varying lengths in no stated order, spanning his career. Rather than the customary date and associated publication notes, Booth offers a brief contextual paragraph with personal asides for each piece. For instance, in a screenplay excerpt titled “Mr. Crump Don’t Like It: If Beale Street Could Talk,” he notes that he “stole” the idea for writing a three-arc plot from William S. Burroughs’ The Last Words of Dutch Schultz. Other topics include Graceland, Memphis soul, Mose Allison, and James Brown.

Further entertaining testimony from a music journalist whose writing pulsates with the same blues rhythms as the soil and streets in which they were born.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64160-106-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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