Conover, who wrote so well about the low life in Rolling Nowhere (1983: railroad tramps) and Coyotes (1987: migrant workers), now spiritedly chronicles the high life—8000 feet above sea level and worlds above plebeian reality in the glittering ``paradise'' of Aspen. Neither well-known like Jack Nicholson, George Hamilton, Goldie Hawn, or the many other celebs he brushes shoulders with in his roughly chronological (late 1980's) account, nor wealthy like the CEOs and scions who have made tiny Aspen into a resort town with ``more million-dollar houses than Denver,'' Conover chooses the perch of an ``official voyeur'' from which to spy on Aspen life—as a cabdriver. His details of cabbie procedures (e.g., notes on cabbie lingo) drag a bit, but what he sees from his driver's seat, often acting as a delivery boy, shines—from the movie mogul who calls up in the middle of the night for some chocolate-chip cookies to Hunter Thompson calling up for some booze (``his rarefied appearance, virtual unintelligiblilty, and jerking manner made you wonder whether he was an imbecile or a genius''). As Conover makes his good-humored, wide-eyed way around town, partying (crashing a star-studded bash hosted by Don Johnson), soaking up Aspen history (neatly nutshelled here), interviewing the famous (including an over-the-hill John Denver), eventually changing jobs (to a post on The Aspen Times), he touches on Aspen's darker side, particularly in a grim account of the recovery of the body of a skier killed by an avalanche. It's the moneyed excess of Aspen life, though, that tugs at his soul, until, by book's end, he finds himself judging a beloved old Denver restaurant as ``very grey and middle-class. There was no glamour around for miles.'' A bit scattered and not as smooth as Coyotes—as Conover hops and comments here, there, everywhere—but full of flashes of insight and plenty of fun to read for the many enticing tales of the rich and famous.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 1991

ISBN: 0-394-57469-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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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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