An interesting take on the Pythons, but it might have trouble finding an audience, as it doesn't offer anything truly new to...




And now for something completely different about something completely different.

Consisting of John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman, England's Monty Python is arguably the only contemporary comedic entity that has transcended generations. (Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges are among those that have transcended all generations, but the fact that Monty Python is deservedly mentioned alongside those icons demonstrates their importance to filmed, scripted comedy.) Their fans are passionate to the point that more people than you suspect can quote large chunks of sketches from the long-running TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus or their classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Here, Cogan (Communication/Molloy Coll.; Encyclopedia of Punk Music and Culture, 2006) and Massey (English Language and Literature/Molloy Coll.; co-editor: Heads Will Roll: Decapitation in the Medieval and Early Modern Imagination, 2012) pose the question, "How can we put this useless (albeit hilarious) knowledge to good use?" The authors decided that Python—with their dead parrots, French taunters and reverence for Spam—can be used as a teaching tool, and believe it or not, they're right. Similar in tone and intent to Blackwell’s “…and Philosophy" series, Cogan and Massey apply Python's lessons (such as they are) to history, sport, art, theory and “everything else.” For example, in the history chapter, the authors deliver a lengthy discussion about Python's iconic Spanish Inquisition sketch and how it utilizes and relates to the real Spanish Inquisition. The book is exhaustive—the authors touch on nearly every decent Python moment—and while it's a clever concept, it's a tough beginning-to-end read and is best attacked in bite-sized chunks.

An interesting take on the Pythons, but it might have trouble finding an audience, as it doesn't offer anything truly new to hard-core Pythonites, and newbies may gravitate toward one of the many quality Python bios.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-00470-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 6, 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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