An odd but often satisfying story, told in an unusual voice.


Who Broke The Girl?

A lifetime of wandering gradually leads a woman to greater happiness, as revealed in this debut memoir.

Costantino, the daughter of immigrants, didn’t have a happy childhood. Tensions ran high at home, and “the girl” (as the author refers to herself throughout) grew from a shy, anxious child into a highly sensitive adult. Despite the author’s professional accomplishments, her inability to “escape the fear of being just one” led her to move to a big city. A romance with a “broken boy” turned sour and ultimately abusive. Recognizing the need for a major change, she fled to her parents’ home country, then to another new city, where she threw herself into her work. After burning out in her job, she quit to go globe-trotting, and then returned to “the city with all the right kind of energy for her.” But despite Costantino’s searching, nothing filled the hole in her soul, and bad relationships with both lovers and friends were a continual source of stress and sadness. She attempted to distract herself from her personal struggles by giving her all to her career, working herself to the bone for ungrateful employers. The author relates all these events in the most general terms. Characters are typically referred to as “girl,” “boy,” or “friend” and the cities and countries she visits and resides in are vaguely described but never named, both of which give the book a distant, fairy-tale quality. Even her career, which dominates her life, is never explicitly identified, although she appears to work in a high-pressure field, such as media or advertising. This literary technique effectively keeps the focus on her emotional state. However, it’s also confusing at times, as it’s often nearly impossible to tell people apart; the style would have been better suited to an essay than a book-length memoir. Yet Costantino’s emotional honesty is refreshing, and her slow, awkward journey toward greater happiness reflects that life’s problems are rarely solved in an instant.

An odd but often satisfying story, told in an unusual voice. 

Pub Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-48163-9

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Waking Works Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2015

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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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