Get two filmmakers together to talk about work and the result should be interesting, especially if one of them—Woody Allen- -seldom sits for long interviews. But the operative word here is should. Bjîrkman is a Swedish filmmaker and critic who has done a similar book with Ingmar Bergman (Bergman on Bergman, 1974). He sits a filmmaker down and gets him to talk his way through his career, discussing working methods, influences, collaboration, ideas, and themes. Since Allen rarely gives interviews, this volume is by its very nature an important one for fans of his films, and he is candid about his thematic obsessions—death, the confusion between fantasy and reality, the tensions that threaten the nuclear family. His blowup with Mia Farrow occurred during the course of the interview process, and although he never discusses it directly (which is fine, given the overexposure it received in the press), Allen does talk about the importance of focusing on filmmaking during ``this time of stress''; still, he says its effect on his work was minimal. But this is not a confessional, Barbara Waltersstyle interview. It's two guys talking shop, and Allen speaks at great length about casting decisions, the mechanics of shooting, and the writing process. He can be startlingly on-target when talking about his limitations, as in his observation that too much of his dramatic dialogue sounds like it was written for subtitles, but for much of the book, he seems defensive, particularly about negative critical reactions to his films. Unfortunately, given the opportunity he is presented, Bjîrkman doesn't ask many interesting questions. He shows little knowledge of the New York milieu so essential to Allen's films, or of American culture (popular or high), and no sense of humor at all. As a result, much of the book is just dull. Strictly for those who devour the Woodman's every word.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8021-1556-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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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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