A travel journalist’s search for pornographic relics, subversive texts and sinful sites becomes the itinerary for his family’s European vacation.

Victorian elites once sent their sons on the Grand Tour. These lengthy excursions allowed young men the opportunity for leisurely indulgence in the cornucopia of European cultural delights. Perrottet’s quest for enlightenment heads in a more saucy direction. Having tackled similar bawdy topics in his previous books (Napoleon’s Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped, 2008, etc), the author was mesmerized by collection of sexual oddities housed in the British Museum, including ancient Roman phallic jewelry and amulets depicting athletic coital positions. With his family in tow, Perrottet began tracking down the “forbidden historical fruit” scattered across Europe. Starting their vacation along the gloomy Scottish coastline, the author visited the Beggar’s Benison, a sex club founded in 1732. As his wife and sons longed for sunshine and swimming pools, the family slowly navigated toward sunnier locales with stops in Paris, the French countryside, Lake Geneva, Venice and the Vatican. They finally landed in Capri, where “[i]t was as if the soil itself were irrigated with sin. The brilliant light, the crystalline water, the languid heat, all cried out, carpe diem.” Throughout, Perrottet humorously recounts his travails at tracking down the location of luxurious Belle Époque brothels; his thrill at securing a spot with a secret tour of Casanova’s prison cell; and his successful wrangling with Vatican authorities for a glimpse of Raphael’s Bathroom of Love. In Lacoste, the author gently and persistently pestered Pierre Cardin, the owner of the Marquis de Sade’s home, into allowing him a visit into the infamous rake’s dungeon. Perrottet layers his narrative with tantalizing historical research, funny family complications and slightly acerbic comments regarding contemporary Europeans. A well-researched, amusing recollection of one family’s offbeat holiday trek to the naughty nooks of Europe.


Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-59218-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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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