History and private life interfused utterly by a master writer in a way at once authentic, unpretentious, moving, and of...

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IN MY BROTHER’S SHADOW

A LIFE AND DEATH IN THE SS

Now that he alone of his immediate family is still alive, this remarkable German writer (The Invention of Curried Sausage, 1995, etc.) produces a group memoir that, with piercing intelligence, reawakens—and grieves over—a dreadful history.

Born in 1940 the youngest of three siblings, Timm calls himself “the afterthought” of the family, in deference to his brother, Karl-Heinz, 16 years Timm’s senior, a member at age 18 of the Death’s Head division of the SS, and dead of wounds near Kiev by late 1943. What now remains of this absent but loomingly significant older brother is only a small collection of personal items, among them a diary, kept daily during military action in Ukraine. Its omissions speak most loudly for Timm (“There is nothing about prisoners. . . . Why were they not worth mentioning?”), as does its thunderously understated final entry: “I close my diary here, because I don’t see any point in recording the cruel things that sometimes happen.” In the light of what those “cruel things” must have been, Timm, drawing on memory, family lore, and his own extensive reading, goes back into the history both of his family and of Germany itself from the 1920s on, refusing throughout to flinch, forgive, or meliorate. His father, a furrier in Hamburg, tried hard to keep up the appearance of well-being and status, but in the end, surviving into the 1950s and sinking into alcoholism, his was to be a “life that failed.” Equivalent memories of his dutiful mother and unmarried older sister strike the same note of effort, sorrow, and the unfulfilled. But above all looms the lost brother, an ever-present barrier between the surviving Timm and his grieving father, so that “my own existence was always called into question,” both by the brother as lost son, and by the brother as lost nation.

History and private life interfused utterly by a master writer in a way at once authentic, unpretentious, moving, and of extraordinary significance.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-10374-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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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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