Soul-blues fans will savor this love letter, but nondevotees will be left in the cold.



A well-reported but not entirely satisfying consideration of a hardy R&B subgenre.

Veteran blues observer Whiteis (Chicago Blues, 2006) examines a style, nestled not always comfortably on the cusp of classic deep soul and funky blues, which has operated mainly below the commercial radar since the late Z.Z. Hill put it on the map with “Down Home Blues” in 1981. The bulk of the book comprises lengthy in-depth profiles of seasoned performers Latimore, Denise LaSalle, J. Blackfoot and Bobby Rush and younger successors Willie Clayton, Sweet Angel, Sir Charles Jones and Ms. Jody; other progenitors and latter-day practitioners receive shorter entries in two late chapters. Whiteis also delves into the realities of writing for the genre, the intrinsic difficulties of marketing the music and vague possibilities for its future. While the author is clearly enthusiastic about his subject, he seems to be in deep denial about the real potential for soul-blues. As he notes repeatedly, the music has always attracted a middle-aged (and older) demographic, and even its youngest stars are in their 40s and 50s. It continues to survive on what’s left of the Southern chitlin’ circuit or on the occasional package tour or a small festival circuit. Major U.S. labels and big-market R&B radio have never given the style a tumble, and its artists must be content with selling their material either through smaller independents or via their own imprints. While Whiteis holds out some hope that soul-blues can sustain itself in the wide-open world of Internet music distribution, he offers no compelling evidence that this is actually a path out of the wilderness. And his maddening reluctance to offer album sales or radio-airplay figures only confirms the reader's suspicion that this is an increasingly marginal music that is playing to a graying, shrinking and narrowly circumscribed audience.

Soul-blues fans will savor this love letter, but nondevotees will be left in the cold.

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-252-07908-5

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Univ. of Illinois

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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