An honest, searching exploration of the artist as a young man.




In this debut memoir, a young pianist recalls touring the United States with his program of contemporary American music while struggling with his closeted sexuality.

After graduating from music school with honors, Tendler came up with a bold idea: “I’d always wanted to travel, I loved modern American music, and I had nothing else to do. I would call it America 88x50—eighty-eight keys by fifty states.” His program showcased four American art-music composers—Charles Ives, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Alberto Ginastera and Aaron Copland. After emailing his proposal—which he now describes as “a grandiose web of half-truths”—to 50 presenters, he got no positive responses. “Clearly, you are not a professional musician,” said one presenter in an email reply. He decided to tour anyway. Tendler was ill-prepared, at first lacking a website, publicist or even a poster. (He now has a website with sound files, photographs and reviews.) Nevertheless, Tendler lined up a handful of concerts and hit the road, playing wherever he could get a booking—a nursing home, an elementary school, a noisy coffee shop—and eventually, he reached his goal. Even nonmusical readers could become engrossed in Tendler’s narrative as he struggles with self-doubt, logistics, health and coming out, as well as the underlying fight to maintain his pursuit of art through the generosity of others when funding is slim and audiences tiny. The elderly, he discovered, are the most likely to take chances and show up, “while my own hipper-than-thou demographic of twenty-somethings could scarcely ever be found.” In many ways, his quest is personal, though Tendler “learned long ago that only by playing before an audience can a pianist really discover the truth about what they know or don’t know about a piece of music,” and his exploration of this relationship is fascinating. For instance, when he played his dissonant music at a Hurricane Katrina benefit and a disrupted family was in the audience, his host told him that, to them, “Your program made perfect sense.”

An honest, searching exploration of the artist as a young man.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-615-70009-0

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Dissonant States Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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