An invaluable resource for film buffs and future storytellers interested in the creation of great Hollywood films over the...




Iconic Hollywood filmmakers speak candidly about narrative, their process, and juicy experiences from the industry.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” says moderator Jane Summer. “At no other event will you see a lineup like this one. Now let’s meet our real-life heroes.” She was speaking specifically about Ron Howard and the other talented writers, directors, and producers on her panel at the Austin Film Festival, but the same could be said for every chapter in this follow-up to On Story: Screenwriters and Their Craft (2013), offering even more curated highlights from the festival and its sister PBS series. The minds behind some of the most successful and well-crafted films of late-20th- and early-21st-century Hollywood cover a range of topics, from philosophical examinations of characters to the audience’s relation to a story. They also gladly offer pieces of showbiz mythology that film buffs crave: a pre–L.A. Confidential Brian Helgeland carrying unwanted scripts down Sunset Boulevard; Harold Ramis bought his first home with reviews of Animal House as collateral; Jonathan Demme nearly chose Laura Dern over Jodie Foster for the character of Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs. Insights into process will also enthrall budding writers—e.g., Thelma and Louise scribe Callie Khouri’s admission that she opened screenplay guru Syd Field’s book once and never looked at it again, which is surprising since Thelma is often considered a pinnacle of mainstream Hollywood three-act structure. Editors Morgan and Perez achieve these fresh revelations by choosing well-known projects and then pulling deeper, more fascinating observations from the creators. The results are impressive. However, for today’s worldly film students, the scope may seem limited, as it largely ignores the avant-garde and foreign cinema and features few discussions about the tastes and technologies currently rocking the industry. But for those interested in this specific milieu of Hollywood, there are few other examinations as personal, surprising, and well-executed.

An invaluable resource for film buffs and future storytellers interested in the creation of great Hollywood films over the last 40 years.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1090-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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