A how-to book that belongs on many shelves.



A brief but comprehensive survey both of the crisis-beset book-publishing industry and of strategies for authors and publishers to get books on the market.

A rule, or so we wish, of how-to books on writing should be this: If the author has not written a prior book other than that how-to book, then it’s not to be taken seriously. So it is with publishing. The market is crowded with how-to-get-your-book-published books written by people with no discernible credentials, which is emphatically not the case with marketing guru Kampmann (late of Viking, St Martin’s, Simon & Schuster, etc.) and writer/editor/publishing insider Atwell. Their approach assumes no prior experience, for there is a fine line between professionalism and cluelessness, and it judiciously divides the landscape of publishing into the traditional and the new—and largely unexplored. They counsel that a new author might wish the shelter of a major New York trade house, with the proviso that “the biggest downside of being published by traditional publishers is that a title can easily get lost in the pack, creating the probability of very disappointing results.” True enough, as every midlist author knows. On the self-publishing front, the authors wisely advise that no book should go out the door without having been professionally edited, and they add plenty of other useful bits to the mix. A highlight, for instance, is the marketing timetable, which will be of tremendous help even to authors working with the majors and wanting to be sure things are happening when they should. The “success stories” that close the book are of a lily-gilding variety, however, and one wishes that the space had been given over to more of Kampmann and Atwell themselves.

A how-to book that belongs on many shelves.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8253-0687-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Beaufort

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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