Some of the best pieces of the esteemed humorist’s long career.

Trillin (Trillin on Texas, 2011, etc.) is best known for his writing on food and politics, and there's a feast of both in this collection of four decades of work. In “Missing Links,” an essay on the Cajun dish boudin, he reveals a deep knowledge of regional cuisine while delivering wry takes on his culinary obsessiveness. In “Eating With the Pilgrims,” he condemns bland Thanksgiving fare and lobbies for spaghetti carbonara as a replacement dish. As for politics, the book includes plenty of his light verse on legislators, mostly skewering Republicans. On Tom Delay: “Corruption’s in his DNA. / It dominates his résumé.” On John Boehner: “Can anything be said for Speaker Boehner? / Yes. Others in the party are insaner.” But Trillin has held a range of interests throughout his career, and the book makes room for his critiques of high finance, satirical pieces about Jewish culture and self-deprecating pieces on his failures as a househusband: “A man who has a cross-indexed list of what’s in his basement is not a little too well-organized, he’s hateful.” His late wife Alice, the subject of his 2007 memoir, About Alice, makes regular appearances in the book, often as a forbearing housewife. Trillin is a topical humorist, which means many jokes haven’t aged well—why was Dick Lugar worth making fun of back in 1995? But the tone is always bright and genial, and gags about car alarms and corruption are deathless. More support, if any were needed, that Trillin is a leading humorist, even if some dust clings to a few of the essays and poems.


Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6982-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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