This very satisfactory collection of essays celebrates the author's seventh decade as she looks back on it from her serene and energetic eighth. Heilbrun is a former Columbia University professor and a writer noted both for her feminist scholarship (Writing a Woman's Life, 1988, etc.) and her Amanda Cross mysteries. Satisfactorily married for half a century, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother, she nevertheless planned to commit suicide when she reached 70. But when that magic number arrived, she discovered in looking back that living through her 60s had been an ``astonishing'' pleasure. Unlike some of her peers—Doris Grumbach and May Sarton among them—she has not grown crankier as she has grown older, and she attributes that in part to a life with ``many advantages,'' including good health and the discovery of close women friends. At first glance, the essays encompass a broad diversity of subjects, from Bianca the black dog to the joys of E-mail to androgyny and bisexuality (in a liberating section called ``On Not Wearing Dresses''), and including thoughts on living with men and on the fantasies of a lifelong Anglophile. Yet in fact, the range is narrow. Each piece, more or less fruitfully, discusses coming to terms with the past and formulating the terms of the present ``without a constant . . . stream of anger and resentment, without the daily contemplation of power always in the hands of the least worthy.'' In essence, the author describes a state not of growing older, but of being older, a state that incorporates both grace and growth. Drawing elegantly on the poets and authors she has taught and written about, from Andrew Marvell to Gloria Steinem, Heilbrun offers a glimpse not only of the rewards of aging, but of feminist battles fought and won.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-31325-X

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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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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