A genuine page-turner: the weak-willed will lose sleep.

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ALL I DID WAS ASK

INTERVIEWS FROM FRESH AIR WITH TERRY GROSS

Captivating compilation of interviews with people in the arts, all first broadcast on Fresh Air.

Gross has been hosting her daily, hour-long NPR interview show for 30 years, and in that time countless cultural icons have submitted to her polite but relentless questioning. Here, she collects interviews done since the show went national in 1987. Explaining the focus on artists, writers, actors, and sundry entertainers, the author contends that her many interviews with figures involved in politics or social issues can seem dated a few years after they air. The famously cagey Gross begins by revealing a good deal about her own life; existing fans should enjoy the inside look at how her show is produced and who the key players are, along with personal details. (She answers the lesbian question once and for all.) But the real delight is in the interviews themselves, uniformly fresh and so animated on the page that it’s hard to imagine they were better live. The range of subjects is vast: Gross connects with Johnny Cash and Grandmaster Flash, Dennis Hopper and Jodie Foster, Mario Puzo and Maurice Sendak, among many others. Almost all of them, while discussing their work process or latest project, come up with some remarkable observation, from the piquant to the extraordinary. John Updike’s comments on his Rabbit novels give piercing insight into life in suburbia in the 1950s, while author Ann Bannon describes how it felt to write lesbian fiction during the same period. George Clinton talks about the roots of his mighty funk empire, and Hal David reveals that he dreaded writing the song for the movie Alfie. For those who love a good fight, Gross includes her notorious interview with Gene Simmons.

A genuine page-turner: the weak-willed will lose sleep.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2004

ISBN: 1-4013-0010-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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