Even the most sophisticated readers will learn much from these erudite perambulations.




The renowned novelist (The Married Man, 2000, etc.) offers an intensely personal portrait of one of the world’s great metropolises.

A big city, White quotes “a reckless friend” as saying, is “a place where there are blacks, tall buildings and you can stay up all night.” Paris fills the bill—and besides, the author adds on his own account, there you can buy heroin, “hear preposterous theories that are closely held and furiously argued,” and see some of the world’s most satisfying architecture. Above all else, White observes, Paris is a walker’s city—not a “village” like Rome or a “backwater” like Zürich, but a city whose bounds can comfortably be traversed in a long evening’s stroll. Himself an accomplished flâneur (stroller) in a city full of them, White offers notes on the grammar of the Parisian street, which is markedly unlike that of a street in, say, New York: “Americans,” he writes, “consider the sidewalk an anonymous backstage space, whereas for the French it is the stage itself.” Passing along arrondissements and îles and boulevards, White takes a sidelong view at French culture, with its marked tolerance for African-Americans but disdain for Africans, especially Arabs, and its astounding history of anti-Semitism; its pretensions to greatness and its frequent attainment of the same; and its seeming invulnerability to shock at any of the flesh’s various gratifications. White, a pioneer of gay literature, spends portions of his book strolling through the homosexual demimonde of Paris, which is at once less self-conscious and more embattled than homosexual communities elsewhere. His book, however, should by no means be confined to the gay-lit shelves, for it provides sophisticated reflections on a city dear to so many travelers that has seen its day but retains its allure.

Even the most sophisticated readers will learn much from these erudite perambulations.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58234-135-4

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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