FROM THE GROUND UP

THE BUSINESS OF BUILDING IN THE AGE OF MONEY

Lively exposÇ of the construction of Rincon Center, a mixed- use complex (apartments, offices, shops, restaurants) in San Francisco. In 1984, the city made available a single square block for building, which Ron Verrue, a developer, thought might be the last chance in some years to erect a large tower in the city. He formed a partnership with a large contracting company and a structural engineer and submitted the winning bid for the site. Los Angeles Times correspondent Frantz (Selling Out, 1989, etc.) writes vividly of the multilayered, byzantine financing assembled by the developer, the bottom line of which is never to risk your own money. The most important instrument of the initial financing was raising cash by selling—to investors looking for tax write- offs—huge paper-losses on the early years of the construction loan. The greater part of Frantz's lively account concerns Scott Johnson—Harvard whiz-kid and protÇgÇ of architect Philip Johnson (no relation)—who became the chief architect of the project. Johnson considered himself primarily a visual artist, an ``aesthete'' in his words, although he also said that ``Architecture today must be responsive...to the community, to the clients.'' When Allan Temko, Pulitzer-winning architecture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, called Johnson's twin towers design ``purloined'' from Philip Johnson and Cesar Pelli, Johnson turned all his interest to the atrium—where he could show off his stuff—and spent a year squabbling with the city over the color of its glass and searching for an artist who could design a dramatic ``water event'' (fountain). Johnson was unable to make the building livable from the walls in; another architect had to be hired to follow him around cleaning up the messes. After Johnson left the project, several million dollars were spent redesigning and rebuilding the apartments. There is so much money in big construction that the project survived the Tax Reform Act of 1986—which cut out its main financial base, a $25 million cost overrun—and still turned a profit. An absorbing and lucid account of this business. (Eight pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1991

ISBN: 0-8050-0996-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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