Thoughtful, literary-minded musings on motherhood, art, and the frequent intersection of the two.



A series of essays that combine musings on motherhood with literary and film theory.

In this collection, Hagood (Creative Writing/Fordham Univ.; Making Maxine’s Baby, 2015, etc.) blends her academic interest in women’s creative works with her personal experience as the mother of two children. The book’s structure borrows from academia, dividing the essays into sections with titles such as “Research Proposal,” “Methodology,” and “Literature Review.” The essays are short—few are longer than a page—but introspective. The author’s focus is on understanding her place in the world, and she often finds her answers in metaphor: “I was obsessed with mixed genre art, and had now become it. What could be more of a mixed genre than a woman with a mini-woman growing inside her?” References to a variety of artists and theorists appear throughout, from philosophers Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida to film directors Sarah Polley and Jean Cocteau. The essays address such topics as maternal ambivalence (“My emotional center wanted nothing more than to have a second kid and my mental center wanted nothing more than to have my emotional center committed”), Hagood’s writing style (“I want to show you not the explosion but the mushroom cloud”), and her literary ambitions (“If only I could do for motherhood and womanhood what James Joyce did for walking around the city and taking a crap”). They’re full of the minutiae of the author’s thoughts, and this self-focus may exhaust readers at times. At the same time, though, this intensely personal aspect is one of the book’s greatest strengths; the author wisely doesn’t try to draw universal conclusions about motherhood or femininity based on her own limited experience, which allows readers to interpret and apply her thoughts as they see fit. Her well-developed, imagery-laden prose makes the book an enjoyable read, and the essays’ brevity makes them suitable for bingeing, if desired.

Thoughtful, literary-minded musings on motherhood, art, and the frequent intersection of the two.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-934909-58-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hanging Loose Press

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2019

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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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