The best of the crop of recent French vineyard books, perhaps because the most modest—or because it gets its hands dirty. Tom the writer and Sara the photographer, after four years together in New York and Paris, head for the countryside to find a spot in the Bordeaux region to set up a home in which to write and work and accept assignments. Maybe for a year? At Ruch, a speck of a village, they lease a big boxy addition to the church. But Ruch keeps them more than a year. Tom longs to taste the soil in the wine, as in centuries ago before modern winemaking methods came between the wine and the palate—though Ruch happens to produce bulk wines, nothing fancy. He digs right into winemaking, harvests grapes with the locals, studies the pressing and fermentation of grapes, and takes as much interest in all this—along with the effects of the weather—as the villagers. Much time also is spent gossiping with and visiting villagers. One wonders: What is all this idle talk about food that preoccupies everyone—but the taste of food and wine does preoccupy the villagers, so into the book it goes. Also, it helps us feel the fermenting of Tom and Sara, as do the deaths of various villagers, whose passing puts a burn on Sara's heart for wedding bells. Will the two marry? The title page already tells us, so how does it come about? The amusing climax comes when Tom finds a winemaker who does the whole process entirely by hand and he asks to taste the soil in this wonderful old man's vintage—and gets a taste of France he never expected. Sara's knockout photos bring everything to life as Tom's awareness of days gurgling down the drain adds poignancy to each passing page.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-28381-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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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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