As Cape Cod naturalist Longgood (The Queen Must Dies, 1984, etc.) says, this informed and charming record of a year's observation of and reflection upon his garden is ``not a book on gardening. It is about gardening.'' Longgood may downplay his know-how, but it is evident on every page: from the need for a garden chair to the advantages of raised beds (as used by the Pilgrims); from thoughts on the quality of manure to the growth rate of pole beans; from the uses of seaweed to discussing seed companies that avoid extreme commercialization, Longgood almost inadvertently offers gardening guidance throughout. He is less concerned, however, with the technical cultivation of pease ``than with their exquisite beauty when the ripe pod is split open.'' He juxtaposes the pesticidal ``agribiz'' growers, who do untold damage with chemicals, with his friend Dorothy, who builds a palatial chicken coop for the scarce manure and winds up caring for her chickens well past their egg-bearing years. While he observes and works his 60-foot- by-90-foot garden, Longgood tunes in to nature's ``voices,'' attempting to discover man's place in the natural order. Occasionally, he'll lie on his back between the rows of plants, looking up at the garden, a perspective that leads to an alternative view of bugs and slugs and other garden visitors. In particular, his consideration of the Colorado potato beetle brings forth a history of the potato that illustrates the interdependence of ``pests'' and gardens and, in his world, shows that spiders, bees, moths, and slugs are as integral to the garden as-the gardener. ``A garden,'' he writes, ``is a...combined chapel, workplace and supermarket.'' Longgood's winsome musings are delivered with an excellent eye-and ear-for detail.

Pub Date: April 29, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-02950-6

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

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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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