Rather winning life of Jean Harlow, with some revisions on the tale offered by Samuel Marx and Joyce Vanderveen in Deadly Illusions (1990)—and many fresh interviews plus a handful of new folks speaking out who have kept silent until now. Stenn (the well-received Clara Bow, 1988) gives a sympathetic, well-rounded Harlow—one immensely superior to the Harlow (1965) by Irving Shulman and Arthur Landau that prompted two scurrilous film bios back in the mid-60's—but he doesn't actually add much to the Harlow we already know. Aside from massaging the boot blows by Shulman and Landau, and cleaning up the suicide of Harlow's second husband, producer Paul Bern, this is more a refresher course than a set of discoveries. The big, definitive life is yet to be written, although most of Harlow's intimates are dead and still fresher material than Stenn's is not likely. The best qualities here are Stenn's attention to his subject's acting and the growth of her talent, and Harlow's often physical presence on the page, especially in her wacky nude scenes with studio photographers and at parties, and in Stenn's capturing of her shyness, the modesty at the core of the woman, which her nude moments only enforce. Yes, Jean Harlow, aided by her mother, would ice her breasts to a tight firmness and play scenes braless—but this was ``Jean Harlow'' the image and top moneymaker for MGM, not Harlean Carpenter, the towhead deep inside the image. The biggest villain in this bio is Mother Jean, ``who had slave-driven her [daughter] to stardom, sabotaged her marriages, squandered her money, and sacrificed her happiness.'' Harlow, going by Stenn, was marked for early death when her mother, a Christian Scientist, didn't have Jean properly diagnosed at 15 for the nephritic infection that killed her at 26. Between takes, a platinum Venus sits firmly on your lap, knitting socks. (Sixty photos)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-42157-5

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1993

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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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