A candid and thoughtful reflection on faith, reason, and art.




A debut memoir explores a young man’s upbringing in the Mormon Church and his flight from it.

Hansen was born in Washington state but raised in Hawaii to be a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He chose to undertake a two-year Mormon mission—he was assigned in Germany—when he was 19 years old. But his faith was repeatedly challenged by contradictions within the religion and his desire to become a writer free from conformist dogma of any kind. As a result, his faith withered over time. He married a woman he helped convert to Mormonism in Germany—he was 23 and she was 18—and he ultimately moved back to the country after returning home to marry her, study medieval German literature, and work as a journalist. But as his attachment to his religion evaporated, so did the bonds of matrimony. After he committed an infidelity, the marriage ended in divorce. While Hansen’s recollection is largely a personal one, he also furnishes a short history of the birth of Mormonism and founder Joseph Smith’s 19th-century ministry. Furthermore, the author discusses the basic theological principles of Mormon doctrine, including issues as diverse as the Trinity and the sexual significance of the so-called “magic underwear.” Hansen’s conversion experience to secular nonbeliever, though, wasn’t a bitter one laced with resentment at deception. He deftly describes Mormons in mostly positive passages, arguing that they are generally successful, healthy, family-oriented people who prize education and personal growth and are open to progressive change. The author, in limpid prose, fleshes out a fascinatingly complex religion, which he convincingly argues is the most American of spiritual traditions. In addition, his philosophical restraint is admirable—far from repudiating Mormonism, the author actually succeeds in broadening and deepening the terms of its appraisal: “Back when I was a church member, the question of Smith’s charlatanism bothered me. Now that I have left the church, I see the story differently—not as a question of true or untrue, but as an aspect of his humanity.”

A candid and thoughtful reflection on faith, reason, and art.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-3-946213-12-3

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Hula Ink

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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