Will clean out your political cholesterol and make you think about the long-term, systemic effects of the legal and cultural...

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SEE YOU IN COURT

HOW THE RIGHT MADE AMERICA A LAWSUIT NATION

Americans find themselves more and more in the toils of the law while getting less justice, declares labor attorney Geoghegan (In America’s Court: How a Civil Lawyer Who Likes to Settle Stumbled into a Criminal Trial, 2002, etc.).

Elaborating on themes from such earlier books as Which Side Are You On? (1991), the author looks at the massive changes in American society wrought by the implosion of the union movement (wounded by gutted legal protections that were weak to begin with) and by the economic, legal and social anomie of the middle class. Noting the nation’s current, dramatically skewed distribution of income, Geoghegan argues that we now have a serious sense of disconnect between effort and reward. The U.S. has shifted from a contract-based society with a stable of reasonably well-known rewards to a tort-based crapshoot, in which more people invoke the legal process but less justice is achieved. The mediating influence of many institutions—including unions, of course—has waned. Geoghegan makes no bones about being an unreconstructed liberal of the bread-and-butter variety. He is openly contemptuous of the collapse of fiduciary law as it applies to corporate leadership, of our lengthy discovery-driven legal proceedings, of the diminishing use of injunctions to achieve justice and of the arbitration that was supposed to effectively and efficiently substitute for litigation. This might be unbearably grim, were it not for a writing voice that positions the author as someone with whom you would cheerfully spend four or five hours in a bar somewhere, arguing the whole time, who would then send you home to the sound sleep of the just, confident that civilization was probably still more or less salvageable, if only Geoghegan would either lead, shut up or simply get out of the way.

Will clean out your political cholesterol and make you think about the long-term, systemic effects of the legal and cultural wars in which we are now engaged.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59558-099-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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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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