Regular-guy memoirist Casey (Tales from the Granite Orchard, 2011) presents readers with the stories of his life and times.

In a series of only vaguely chronological and largely self-contained chapters, Casey offers readers his versions of the funny stories and personal folklore that accumulate over the years in most families. Here are his most cherished memories of growing up in typical American suburbia; here is a doomed attempt to learn the fine art of public speaking; here are his strongest impressions of his distant, problematic father; here are his most embarrassing anecdotes about his children and funny stories revolving around his first wife (comments about his second, current wife are rarer and almost entirely reverential). He recounts being made manager of a New York funeral parlor, sweet-to-recall high school days in the 1950s, a persistent penchant for golf in inclement weather and a tense-but-amusing encounter with a tiger shark off Hilton Head. All of these stories have obviously been told many times—they likely came to Casey’s co-writer Mathewson with much of their polish and all of their punch lines already in place. Some skirt sadness, but the vast majority aren’t even bittersweet—this is a warm, happy book (the cover features a simple infusion of sunlight) presided over by Casey’s upbeat, sarcastic, utterly likable persona. “Sometimes I get a little help in the gentle art of creative failure,” Casey writes at one point, but although that tone of approachable self-mockery is present throughout, almost none of this material fails. Children are born, grow up and make their father proud (each one of them gets a separate dedication), and Casey wisecracks and horses around throughout it all, with only occasional stabs at weightier matters (almost always evoked by his parents). A funny, page-turning collection of family highlights, recounted by a genial showman.


Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0980141214

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Haddon Road

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

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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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