In a ``sociological memoir'' based on novels, films, sociological studies, and personal experience, Breines (Sociology/Northeastern Univ.) traces the origins of the feminist movement in the 60's to the underlying discontents and conflicts experienced by women growing up in the 50's—a scenario that she explored politically in Community and Organization in the New Left, 1962-68 (1982—not reviewed). Breines characterizes the white middle class of the postwar period as affluent, materialistic, optimistic, family-oriented, conformist, and fearful of blacks, communists, sexual and social deviance (homosexuality and juvenile delinquency), and the Bomb and female sexuality (the bikini bathing suit, named after the nuclear testing site, symbolizes to Breines the destructive power of both). Women living within this culture, the author says, experienced particular conflicts, being ideologically conditioned to pursue marriage, motherhood, companionship even while they enjoyed opportunities for education, meaningful work, sexual expression, and romance. The author derives this characterization from such male-oriented sociological works as The Lonely Crowd, The Organization Man, and A Generation of Vipers. From the feminine perspective, she describes the dynamics of the mythical 50's family, the necessary illusions, the sexual disillusions, the courting rituals, and the allure for young women like herself of alternate cultures—the artistic underground of the Beats, jazz, and Greenwich Village, the appeal of blacks, delinquents, and sexual experimentation. In a moving but only tangentially relevant chapter, she offers as a case study the brief unhappy life of Anne Parsons—daughter of radical sociologist Talcott Parsons—who committed suicide in 1964 at age 33, defeated by a male-dominated mental-health system and by cultural stereotypes that exclude intellectual unmarried women. Breines successfully evokes the intellectual and cultural milieu of white middle-class East Coast women who dominated the women's movement in the Sixties; if her study is flawed by limiting itself to that group, it's still otherwise thoughtful and jargon- free.

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8070-7502-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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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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