A lean, mean, and ultimately engaging autobiography by the British producer-director, finished six years before his death from AIDS in 1991. Richardson's story is of a pushing, prickly, fiercely ambitious apothecary's son from Yorkshire for whom waiting on his father's customers was ``an embarrassment and a threat,'' who went up to Oxford (``I see ropes—nothing but ropes,'' he effused while creating an experimental production of Peer Gynt) and then made an indelible mark on the British stage, long moldering, with the founding of the Royal Court Theatre, which launched landmark productions of plays such as Look Back In Anger and The Entertainer. Richardson went on to work a great deal in film, flying by the seat of his pants in A Taste of Honey, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Loved One, Tom Jones, and others. Because his work consumed him, his life-story is primarily a project-by-project serial telling, enlivened by savagely amusing pronouncements on the luminaries in his milieu who either rankled him or didn't suitably serve his artistic vision. Famous bodies are everywhere. Richardson is strongest here when the haughty boy from Yorkshire goes ga-ga over Jeanne Moreau and gets what his father might have called a taste of his own medicine, and he's interesting but idiosyncratic in writing of Vanessa Redgrave, the rather magnificent wife he spurned (and toward whom he reveals a great deal—or so it might seem—of unconscious hostility). Oddly, there's not one reference to Redgrave's politics, though they certainly affected Richardson's life and nerves; nor does the author acknowledge his own widely reputed bisexuality. Introduced by Joan Didion, with a foreword by Richardson's daughter Natasha, who says she found the memoir in a cupboard on the day of her father's death. Meanwhile, Didion claims it was given to Natasha by the manuscript typist. They should have talked- -though Richardson sparkles here nonetheless. (Thirty-two pages of b&w photos)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-12101-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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