Engaging stories about an unusual career.

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TALES FROM THE GRANITE ORCHARD

A series of humorous anecdotes from the long career of a New York City funeral director.

Casey started out in the funeral business as a young man, almost by accident. Over nearly 50 years, he rose from an apprenticeship to funeral home manager to president of his own consulting firm. As is easy to imagine, the author has collected some great stories along the way, and he presents his recollections in this book. Casey has a keen eye for character and comedy, and most of his stories are quite funny, some even bordering on hilarious. Highlights include the time the author had to move the body of a man who had grown too big to fit through his bedroom door, and Casey had to involve the building super, the police and a group of thirsty piano-movers. Another anecdote concerns two families holding viewings at the same time who were unhappy with the color of the dresses the funeral-home staff had chosen for their departed relatives, leading to a rather uncomfortable mid-viewing switch. One story revolves around an alcoholic doorman who tended to park visitors’ cars on the sidewalk, and the author’s failed attempts to get rid of him. Though Casey’s first concern is humor, there are oddly touching moments as well, as when he goes to great lengths, figuratively and literally, to help a poor widow arrange a burial at sea on the cheap. While most of the author’s tales are funny, he tells them with the utmost respect for the living and the dead. Casey is compassionate and clearly feels a strong sense of duty as the person responsible for seeing the deceased off to their final resting places, while helping the living achieve closure. His writing is plain and occasionally stiff, but it’s effective and clearly comes from the heart.

Engaging stories about an unusual career.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0980141207

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Haddon Road

Review Posted Online: July 20, 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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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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