Dizzyingly dreadful bio of the once-famous ``Mexican Spitfire,'' who racked up lovers like billiard balls and married Tarzan, a.k.a. Johnny Weismuller. Paste-up can't get more cockeyed than this, with Conner (Golf!, 1992, etc.—not reviewed) giving fuller sketches of Velez's endless lovers and many colleagues than of the actress herself (1908-44), who doesn't show up for pages at a time while we read potted lives of Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Charlie Chaplin, or whomever. The Chaplin pillow-talk is especially sappy: Chaplin, Conner says, kept his affair with Velez hidden and therefore nothing is known about it; meanwhile, the author offers the tidbit that Chaplin's 14-year-old mistress, Lilita Grey, was the original for Nabokov's Lolita, a piece of gratuitous information that Conner fails to support. A lifelong hellion born in Mexico during a hurricane, the tiny, ever-strife-ridden Velez said that she was born fighting. By her mid-teens, she was already an entertainer, thought herself a star, and, following stage appearances in Hollywood with Fannie Brice, entered films. Her first starring role was in The Gaucho, opposite 45-year-old Douglas Fairbanks, with whom, Conner suggests, Velez had a brief fling that depressed Mary Pickford for five years. Readers will find themselves buffeted by bios of Hollywood folk only glancingly acquainted with Velez (such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom Velez hisses as he sings at a party), and few will be able to keep a scorecard on the actress's lovers or to separate them from figures in passing whose pointless bios merely add fluff. Life with Weismuller, Conner says, left the actor bruised and so scratched that only studio makeup artists kept him filmable. Velez killed herself early on, overdosing on Seconal, her bedroom gaudily decorated for the farewell performance. A benchmark in the art of paste-pot bio—and winner of the Plan Nine from Outer Space Award as the worst movie book ever written. (Sixteen pages of photographs)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-942637-96-8

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Barricade

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1993

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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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