A dynamic patchwork of memories and life lessons.




A rags-to-riches memoir ponders the power of human potential.

Born in a beautiful farming village in eastern Nigeria, Ndukwe (The Courage to Aspire, 2018, etc.) writes fondly of loving parents and caring teachers who shaped his character. When a Methodist church opened a school in his area, he was not quite 4 years old, but he still attended and excelled. His “life altering magic moment” occurred when two American electrical engineers performed a science demonstration in his classroom—with wires, a battery, and the flip of a switch, they made a light bulb shine. That’s when the excited student decided to become an electrical engineer. He not only ended up working in electrical engineering, he also earned computer science degrees in the U.S. at Boston’s Northeastern University and worked for companies like USRobotics. At his highest point, he was a manager at Lucent Technologies, designing internet gateways. After the U.S. technology sector bust, the author lost everything. His most painful experience was a bitter divorce—his wife ran away with his children. Homeless, hungry, and angry, he turned to God for answers and, ultimately, he worked his way out of the mire. The author’s childhood anecdotes are vivid. For example, when he received the highest grade on a final exam, it’s easy to imagine the boy’s beaming face as his teacher allowed him to stand on a table while the class clapped. Sometimes the memories are powerfully moving, as when the 12-year-old Ndukwe was asked to bathe his baby sister’s dead body. Each chapter also ends with the author’s takeaways, or thoughts for reader reflection. While well-intentioned, these numbered thoughts are often redundant, interrupting the flow of otherwise fluid prose. For example, at the end of a chapter about his instructors, he writes: “The teachers’ love and affection for a child can have a profound positive impact on the child.” While true, this sentiment is already evident in his anecdotes about his compassionate teachers. Despite this snag, Ndukwe’s spirited storytelling makes the book worthwhile.

A dynamic patchwork of memories and life lessons.     

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9990705-0-5

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Ikebiebooks

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

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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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