THE PUSHCART PRIZE XVIII

BEST OF THE SMALL PRESSES

As little magazines become house organs of university writing mills, talent discoveries become paradoxically harder to make. School styles and trends show up readily enough, but it's the rare piece of new-voice work that seems independent, contrarian, free. This year's Pushcart attests to this flat state of affairs. It's poked-through with almost-first-tier prosework: Alison Deming's ``An Island Notebook''; Tobias Wolff's ``The Life of the Body''; Rick Bass's ``Days of Heaven''; Susan Neville's ``In The John Dillinger Museum''; Rebecca McClanahan's ``Somebody.'' It has some good-enough poems by David Lehman, David Rivard, and Joellen Kwiatek. But even its most notable pieces are sequestered in ivy'd halls: an amusing satire on PC academic-journal names by ``Kothar Wa-Khasis'' (Lowell Edmonds), as well as two poems—one by William Matthews titled ``Note I Left for Gerald Stern in an Office I Borrowed, and He Would Next, at a Summer's Writers Conference''; and one by Marvin Bell, ``Homage to the Runner: Bloody Brain Work''—that come off as everted Mister Chips memos: the life and risky times of creative-writing teachers. (Three clumsy but refreshing bohemian pieces—by David Rattray, Peter Coyote, and the poet who calls himself ``Antler''—provide contrast for the tenured alkalinity here.) Gleanings from an increasingly spent field.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-916366-89-8

Page Count: 572

Publisher: Pushcart

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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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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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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