Picano expands on the autobiographical essays of his previous book, True Stories (2011).

In this sequel, Picano reflects on family, relationships and the various cities of his past, most notably New York, where he was active in the pre- and post-Stonewall gay community of lower Manhattan. There, he took part in “ad-hoc vigilante protection squads” for gay men, enjoyed a bourgeoning literary community and frequented the seediest bars of Greenwich Village. Picano also examines in depth his relationship with his older brother, Bob. Like Picano, Bob was gay, but unlike Picano, he was struggling financially, addicted to drugs and most likely HIV-positive. In light of this, Picano revisits the tension in his early family life and his father’s “plan for feudalizing his sons” as well as his mother’s favoring the older boy above all else. These tensions forced Picano to eventually run away from home—he “led the exodus out of Queens and into Manhattan”—and perhaps to his becoming the more successful brother. This sense of success shows in Picano’s prose, as his narration can be melodramatic and boastful. He casually name-drops literary superstars such as Michel Foucault or hints at the celebrities he might have kissed in dark restaurants. He also lists the glamorous places he’s visited and the fabulous apartments he’s inhabited. But Picano keeps his stories from feeling too overindulgent through brief, carefully reconstructed moments that expertly reveal character and complex dynamics. The bittersweet last words of his soul mate or the whole of the collection’s best piece, “The ‘Nick’ Diaries,” in which his brief journal entries relate a confusing pseudo-romance with a straight man in LA—it’s in these moments that Picano’s stories become the most engaging. His writing is most moving when he’s reflecting on AIDS and HIV, a theme that connects each story and has affected so many people in his life. “When I first moved to L.A.,” he writes, “people here, eager or pleased to know me, always asked why I had moved so relatively late in life. ‘Everyone died,’ I told them.”

An intensely personal collection centered on the survivor of a fascinating, chaotic time.

Pub Date: June 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937627157

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?