THE SHIMMERING MAYA

AND OTHER ESSAYS

The examined life may be the only one worth living, but does it make compelling autobiography? That's the question one ponders while navigating this elliptical, pedantic inquiry into the life of the mind. Brosman—poet, critic, and professor of French at Tulane- -professes many things in 13 opinionated essays: Foremost are respect for language and love of vigorous intellects. A tomboy whose aversion to dresses matured into intolerance for intellectual tomfoolery like feminism or deconstructionist criticism, the self-described ``last traditionalist'' values above all the common enterprise. But claims of egalitarianism and directness are undercut by a failure to balance abstraction with human experience, and by finicky, belabored prose. An essay on summer camps features this tortuous passage: ``There is something in me that calls for communal enterprises—perhaps less living in common, which can be appealing but is, strictly speaking, chiefly just a maintaining of life—than common projects and goals, as though the best of human effort—that which goes to remake the world (in any sense you wish to give the term except the artistic one)—should, by its nature, be a shared undertaking.'' Too often, Brosman's enterprise (ostensibly an exploration of human intellectual endeavor) lapses into literary elitism, wherein she quotes the masters to excess (principally Montaigne, Proust, and Gide) while her personal narrative flounders. And in her contribution to the gender war, ``On Men and Women,'' an insistence on portraying men as slobs and women as sensitive collectors of bric-a-brac contributes substantive evidence of just how archaic her viewpoint is. On men who belie masculine stereotypes: ``This white-wine-and-quiche set is not my type. After all, I am a woman; I can make a sauce myself.'' Rigorous, but as offputting as a fussy aunt; Brosman's white- glove treatment of morality and aesthetics will appeal chiefly to academics, didacts, and makers of sauces.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8071-1874-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more