Mordden’s keen eye, broad vision, wealth of detail and sparkling style bring to life the American rialto at its peak.

READ REVIEW

ALL THAT GLITTERED

THE GOLDEN AGE OF DRAMA ON BROADWAY, 1919-1959

A scintillating take on Broadway drama’s finest decades.

Anyone who wishes they had witnessed the Great White Way’s great past gets a second chance in this latest from Mordden (Beautiful Mornin’, 1999, etc.). A vivid stylist, he seats readers fifth-row center as Laurette Taylor in The Glass Menagerie, Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in almost anything collaborated with many others to bring American dramatic theater to heights that it seems it may never again climb. More than enlivening description, Mordden offers social, political, aesthetic and cultural context as he discusses what led to Broadway’s ascendancy and demise. He examines topics as diverse as the Depression, the Method, McCarthyism and stagecraft to explore the ways in which they shaped what happened on- and off-stage. Against this backdrop, he covers dramas justly and unjustly forgotten. He summons forth the now largely overlooked Rachel Crothers, arguing that she created a new form in her plays, from He and She in 1911 to Susan and God in 1937. He finds the themes in Life with Father worthy of Ibsen and Shaw, ranking Lindsay and Crouse’s long-running comedy along with Thornton Wilder’s Our Town as the two most underappreciated achievements in Broadway history. He suggests that Auntie Mame anticipates Stonewall and the emergence of gay voices on Broadway. But Hollywood, once at Broadway’s heels for scripts and stars, began to surpass it as cool, moody actors like Brando, Newman and McQueen went west to build another entertainment empire.

Mordden’s keen eye, broad vision, wealth of detail and sparkling style bring to life the American rialto at its peak.

Pub Date: April 3, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-33898-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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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