An unrelentingly shallow biography of the decathlete and physician who founded the Gay Games, incorporating extensive chunks of Waddell's diary from the last five years of his life. The prolific Schaap (Steinbrenner!, 1982, etc.) interviewed Waddell at length before his death from AIDS in 1987. The result, after an unexplained nine-year delay, is in essence an uncritical third-person autobiography. Waddell was born Tom Flubacher in New Jersey in 1937. His unhappy family disintegrated when he was young, and by his mid-teens he had moved in with a supportive couple whose name he took. A lousy student, Waddell squeaked his way through college on an athletic scholarship and went on to medical school while competing in track and field events. In 1966 he was drafted; to avoid Vietnam, Waddell registered as a conscientious objector, even demonstrating against the war. In the 1968 Olympics he finished sixth in the decathlon. His athletic career waned, but he pursued adventurous medical postings (i.e., accompanying Saudi royalty as a medical adviser on gambling junkets). Always aware of his homosexual leaning, Waddell came fully to terms with his sexuality in the 1970s, and People featured him and a lover in its ``Couples'' section in 1977. The Gay Games, Waddell's brainchild, were inaugurated in 1982, essentially to show that gay men and lesbians are normal because they can compete in sports as successfully as straight people; Schaap doesn't address criticisms of this fragile logic. Waddell fathered a child with a lesbian friend in 1983; his last years were occupied with his daughter, his declining health, and a protracted legal battle against the US Olympic Committee, which refused to let Waddell call his games the Gay Olympics. A complex character—compassionate, noble, but deeply troubled—sometimes peeks out, but Schaap's gee- whiz prose is as unsubtle as Waddell's diary entries addressed to his infant daughter. (Photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-394-57223-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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