FRIENDS IN THE WORLD

THE EDUCATION OF A WRITER

``We were young, we were arrogant, we were irreverent, we were foolish. But we were right.'' So remarked Abbie Hoffman in 1988, reflecting on his yippie years—and, here, Saroyan emphatically concurs. ``A young man lucky enough to come of age in America during the sixties,'' the novelist (The Romantic, 1988) and biographer (Trio, 1985) now looks back with a curious mix of insight, anecdote, and trivia on his own rites of passage and the friends who shared them. Once a fastidious pothead, Saroyan read for the title role in The Graduate, hung out with other literary hopefuls, and ran into Bob Dylan at the local pharmacy. Starting up a magazine with a small inheritance, he was subsequently denounced by a congressman for his one-word poem ``Lighght,'' and drifted casually from place to place before settling with wife Gailyn (and children Strawberry and Cream) in Bolinas, California, a hip artists' colony. As time passed, Saroyan wrestled with the concept of the literary life (``a flagrant myth, and not necessarily a harmless one'') and became reconciled with father William only as he lay dying. Though full of famous people and unique occasions (e.g., the time that Ed Sanders collected pubic hairs from an assembly of poets for his mail-order catalogue), Saroyan's slim volume is sometimes unsatisfying. He alludes to a process of growth and self-discovery but rarely examines anything up close; and, while he apparently found friendships to be transformative and suggests that the pressure of supporting a family provided another large influence on the course of his life, he skims over the details and offers only thin conclusions in a very quiet prose. Even so, a book with guest appearances by Charlie Mingus, Ted Berrigan, Allen Ginsberg, and an aging Jack Kerouac has its own inherent appeal.

Pub Date: May 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-918273-97-8

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Coffee House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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