ROMANTIC POETS, CRITICS, AND OTHER MADMEN

A quarter-century’s worth of trenchant thinking on Romantic culture from celebrated pianist/musicologist/critic Rosen (author of The Romantic Generation, 1995, and the National Book Award—winning The Classical Style). First published, for the most part, in the New York Review of Books, these pieces test contemporary scholarship’s vision of great Romantic artists from a variety of nations and fields. Rosen’s first essay considers how best to republish Romantic-era literature by carefully contrasting the quirks exhibited by recent editions of Wordsworth, Byron, and Balzac. Rosen also spotlights other Romantic media. Comparing the painter Caspar David Friedrich and the composer Robert Schumann, he explores the Romantic destruction of “not only the barriers between the arts, but the autonomy of art” from nature. In one piece, Rosen even postulates (somewhat wildly, to be sure) that Elizabeth David’s cookbooks, with their evocation of pastoral sentiments, represent “the last gasp of the Romantic momement.” Elsewhere, the critics join the cook as latter-day Romantics as Rosen thinks through—and past—literary scholars like M.H. Abrams and William Empson, the musicologist Heinrich Schenker, and George Bernard Shaw considered as music journalist. Those who find Rosen’s favor tend to be those who, like Empson, Shaw, and the German theorist Walter Benjamin, keep the flame of Romantic practice alive. (Rosen’s superb essay on the difficult but rewarding Benjamin remains quite sharp 20 years after its original publication.) But the unity which the common theme of Romanticism provides for Rosen’s collection makes one feel the absence of an introduction, or a new essay, that might bring to a point the arguments that run throughout, while considering Romanticism’s relation to the classical and the modern. Rosen certainly earns the authority to give such an overview. Especially remarkable, perhaps, is the tone of intellectual generosity that infuses Rosen’s essays—as much as his Romantic avatars, he has a sure touch in uniting thought and expression to expand the worlds of his audience’s experience.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-674-77951-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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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

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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

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