Actor and sometime author Grodin, droll to the brink of dull, presents some afterthoughts to his previous outing (It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here, 1989). In miniature essays, evidently written in airports and hotel rooms, Grodin offers his Philosophy of Life, step by pedestrian step. Judging from his vagrant musings, he's a nice guy in a tough world. The inspirational little pieces tend to sound like a peculiar blend of ``Dale Carnegie Goes to Hollywood (After His Bar Mitzvah)'' and sound bites from Dame Edna Everage. With his classic straight-faced delivery, Grodin, on the topic of ``being friendly,'' wonders: ``What must your average man and woman, who weren't in the movies, [have felt] if I, who was playing leading roles in movies, felt less than well treated?'' His notions are not likely to start controversy. On etiquette: ``I'd rather people just be nice and let it go at that.'' On criticism: ``If we could change half the things wrong with us, the world would be a noticeably better place.'' There are, to be sure, certain revelations befitting a celebrity's work. For example, Grodin tried writing for Michael Dukakis. And he gets all his clothes from the wardrobe department, either free or at half price (``It depends on how they feel about me when the movie's over''). Braggarts, litigation, and ``classical Muzak'' drive the author ``nuts.'' On the other hand, he is forthrightly in favor of honesty, understanding, and, generally speaking (which is his way), goodness. It's all quite affable, and one must have a genial regard for a writer who ingenuously declares that ``Nobody's perfect, especially me and you, so let's not sweat the small stuff.'' Likely to be charmingly promoted on the talk-show circuit, this performance by a fair-to-middling raconteur is what, in the old days of the movies, would have been called a ``programmer'': pleasant enough, but no Academy Award nominee.

Pub Date: April 20, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-11258-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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