A very appealing snack that whets the appetite for more substantial courses.




From Julius Caesar to the Millennium Wheel—a look at London’s history with its storied river ever in the foreground.

To say this is a brisk book is to understate the speed of its current. Many chapters—all aptly and generously illustrated—comprise fewer than 10 pages, and most summarize situations that other writers have found sufficient to fill sturdy volumes of cultural and riverine history, some of which appear in the bibliography. Weightman has a different agenda, however: He wishes to introduce us to the richness of his subject by offering slivers with the certain knowledge that the curious will proceed to the local library for more sizeable slices. The author, who demonstrated that ice is nice in his previous work (The Frozen Water Trade, 2003), sketches the history of the earliest settlements along the river (the Romans were looking for a crossing, not a site for a city), narrates the stories of London’s many bridges (some of which, indeed, fell down), offers us snippets about the Great Fire and the infrequent frost fairs held on the frozen surface, tells the tales of some significant sites along the river, most notably St. Paul’s and the Tower. He examines the cloacal function of the river through most of its history and notes that in the 1830s Londoners who drank city water were essentially consuming their own sewage. Although pollution prevented fish from living in the waters, clean-up activities over the past half-century have worked so well that some 120 species now swim by Parliament each day. Weightman offers snapshots, as well, of the Cambridge-Oxford rowing race, of early tunneling under the river, of the arrival of the railroads. Most eerily, he ends with a discussion of the dangers of catastrophic flooding, a threat that most Londoners ignore.

A very appealing snack that whets the appetite for more substantial courses.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34017-6

Page Count: 165

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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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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