Thirtysomething Economist correspondent Hunt ventures to Vietnam to get his fair share of abuse, finding plenty of it when he wanders off the typical tourist path. Hunt, fresh from a break-up with his girlfriend and three career changes (from journalism to law school to stand-up comedy), went to Vietnam to do research for a novel set along the old North Vietnamese infiltration route known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. ``I had to know what happened, both during and after the war,'' he says. ``Was America really in the wrong?'' And Hunt had a third goal: to see how he ``would have fared under the miserable conditions that Americans and their enemies shared in Vietnam.'' The intrepid author embarked on an admittedly ``half-baked plan'' to experience the trail on a rickety motorbike. Our man gave up the novel research soon after he arrived in Vietnam. He ditched the idea of seeing most of the trail after several weeks of physical discomfort (rain, mud, impassable dead ends, potholes the size of Rhode Island, inedible food, unsanitary accommodations) and harassment from police and unfriendly natives. He decided to turn the trip into a less adventurous round of sightseeing. As for the big questions he poses about the war, Hunt does not come close to answering them. Nor does his research on contemporary Vietnam uncover anything that hasn't been documented in a half dozen recent books. The bulk of this fast-reading volume, then, is made up of a blow-by-blow description of Hunt's journey from Hanoi to Saigon, with stops in small towns, mountain villages, cities such as Hue, and a side trip into Laos. Along the way Hunt meets many Vietnamese. He peppers the descriptions of his hosts with language that is, at best, patronizing, for example, calling a large family ``a litter of seven.'' Hunt's most excellent adventure story reveals more about the adventurer than his exploits.

Pub Date: May 18, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-48128-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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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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