Anyone who already values grammar, arguments about rules or the checkered glories of verbal style, however, is in for a...



America’s most popular language maven preaches 50 zippy sermonettes on grammatical truisms so often misunderstood that even he seems to get them wrong.

“1. No sentence fragments,” begins Safire (No Uncertain Terms, 2003, etc.), establishing the self-contradictory pattern for each of the “fumblerules”—laws of highly variable authority set forth in terms that call attention to the lessons they teach by gleefully breaking them—he’s culled from readers of his weekly “On Language” column for the New York Times Magazine and his own copious and often cantankerous experience. Purists will be happy to learn that Safire takes a zero-tolerance approach to dangling participles (Rule 25); more permissive writers will be relieved to know that he allows split infinitives (Rule 41) and prepositions at the end of sentences (Rule 49) under the proper conditions; editors and schoolteachers will nod in weary sympathy at Rule 33: “Of all the statements about indefinite pronouns, none is useful.” Whether he’s inveighing against subject-verb disagreements (Rule 12) or urging, “Don’t use contractions in formal writing” (Rule 5), Safire is invariably shrewd, witty and provocative. The one constituency likely to be disappointed by his sparklingly matter-of-fact approach to the tired but important rules of writing is readers most in need of grammatical help, for Safire’s ready facetiousness throughout both his fumblerules and his glosses often obscures the difference between the rules he actually endorses (“11. Write all adverbial forms correct”) and mere circumlocutions or canards (“38. One will not have needed the future perfect tense in one’s entire life”). The target audience throughout is writers who already have a pretty good idea how to write and are looking for practical advice about how to mess up.

Anyone who already values grammar, arguments about rules or the checkered glories of verbal style, however, is in for a treat.

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-393-32723-X

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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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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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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