A vivid and emotionally felt account of full engagement with the world.

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MY NAME IS Y

This memoir, a collection of 25 short essays, looks back on a Northern California woman’s life as an activist, writer, wife, and mother.

As Stock (Three Tales From the Archives of Love, 2018, etc.) explains in an epilogue dated Valentine’s Day 2018, the pieces assembled here were written 32 years ago, in the mid-1980s. The author refers to herself and others only by initials. For example, she is Y; her husband M; their elder daughter R; middle child A, a girl; and their youngest, a boy, B. Each chapter is a stand-alone essay on topics that include Stock’s anguish about nuclear testing and the Chernobyl disaster; family memories and events; dreams; moments of reflection; and nature. Many chapters begin with (and are punctuated by) the time of day, as the author ranges between present-day events and recollections of the past. Her close observation of everyday life brings a poetic quality to the essays. The voice is lyrical and the overall tone poignant, with even moments of joy often being threaded through with an awareness of complicity in and responsibility to stand against the world’s injustices. In an essay about Memorial Day and the Vietnam War, for example, Stock recalls the birth of her son and how the words “It’s a boy” signified “the moment I became a conscious political being.” Years later, seeing the movie Platoon with her son, he jerks at the violence onscreen; she writes, “If I am weeping, it is only because I am alive.” On a few occasions, the tone can become overwrought; the opening piece, in particular, on the Hiroshima bombing, uncomfortably over-identifies the narrator, a Marin County woman married to a surgeon, with the Japanese victims. She speaks in their voice—“I am the prolonged taste of tortured matter”—and performs activities (including driving her Volvo, swimming laps, and crossing the street) “in memory of the bombing of Hiroshima.” But the author’s thoughtfulness usually prevents didacticism.

A vivid and emotionally felt account of full engagement with the world.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-60052-154-6

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Norfolk Press

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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