Though frequently amusing, Gurwitch’s essays aim at easy targets and back off from complex thought.




The latest collection of essays from the actress and author.

The ostensible connective theme for this diffuse volume is family, and Gurwitch (I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50, 2014, etc.) returns to her family of origin frequently, often lighting down just long enough to make a joke or tell an outrageous anecdote. Then she takes off on a stream-of-consciousness stroll that leads her nimbly away from dealing with stronger feelings. According to her frequently repeated stories, she grew up in a difficult environment, with a mother who often confined herself to her room and a father whose crooked business dealings made for frequent moves and even more frequent financial problems. However, rather than delving into the repercussions of this childhood, Gurwitch mostly tells jokes. A couple of the more affecting essays concern the author’s attempts to find an appropriate living situation for her sick and aging parents. She went so far as to move temporarily into the apartment next to theirs in a retirement community in Miami. More often, Gurwitch shies away from negative emotion in favor of humor at the expense of others. The formula of many of the essays is the same: the author briefly enters a new community, makes fun of it, and/or explores the political consequences of it on a superficial level. For example, she attended a weekend summer camp for adults, populated with campers with nicknames like “Huggy Bear” and “Popcorn”; unsurprisingly, she found it insufficiently ironic. She also went to a party for “a skin care company that rhymes with the words ‘far gone,’ ” and she uses this anecdote as a jumping-off point for criticizing multilevel marketing.

Though frequently amusing, Gurwitch’s essays aim at easy targets and back off from complex thought.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-57488-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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