An idiosyncratic rock critic curates his alleged greatest hits.

Eddy (The Accidental Evolution of Rock ’n’ Roll, 2007, etc.) has acquired a curious rep through work for almost every music rag of repute over the course of his career. He honed his chops at traditional journalistic outposts, and he shines brightest in his reportorial work. The most distinguished pieces here are either straight shoe-leather journalism (e.g., a dazzling look at Eminem’s music through the prism of the rapper’s tangled family life or a deft portrait of the aging Ramones) or hopped-up band profiles (e.g., his hilarious give-and-take with AC/DC or his bemused sit-down with U.K. dance-pop heroes Pet Shop Boys). However, the majority of the collection comprises Eddy’s criticism for the Village Voice (where he served as music editor for several years) and various rock-centric magazines. In the last of the chapter introductions that hold the book together, he declares defensively, and stridently, that he is not the “contrarian” that his detractors have long accused him of being. (Nonetheless, in his foreword, Chuck Klosterman defines Eddy’s credo as “most thoughts about music are backwards,” without irony.) If not a contrarian, then he is either a wry observer who takes joy in dismantling rock-crit orthodoxy or a tiresome guy with an enormous record collection and very little taste. While he often proves he knows a jive band when he sees one (e.g., his reviews of Live and the Mentors), he raves over marginalia like metallurgists White Wizzard or pre-fab junk like the Spice Girls while kicking the stuffing out of Radiohead and Nirvana. His championing of jingoistic pinheads Montgomery Gentry and Toby Keith is simply inexplicable, and unconvincing to boot. Eddy’s opinions induce both head-scratching and headaches, while his hyperventilating style and his can-you-top-this tendency to incessantly scatter indiscriminate comparisons wear out his welcome. Despite some gems, addled aesthetics and gale-force gusts of critical wind torpedo this collection.


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8223-4996-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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