A well-researched and accessible examination of Fountaingrove’s utopian society.



A history book focuses on a California utopian community from its 19th-century origins to the destruction of its remnants by wildfires in the 21st century.

Casey (The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant, 2015) and LeBaron (Santa Rosa, 1993) center their study of Fountaingrove on minibiographies of its three most famous members: Thomas Lake Harris, Laurence Oliphant, and Kanaye Nagasawa. Harris, Fountaingrove’s founder, was a product of the religious mania that swept New York state in the 1820s and ’30s. That wave created an array of new religions and philosophies that ranged from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded by Joseph Smith, to the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson. While Harris’ ideas challenged traditional social conventions with notions of the duality of masculinity/femininity that existed in every human and contradictory views on sexuality and celibacy, he managed to convince hundreds of followers to leave their homes and join his promised second Garden of Eden, Fountaingrove, in Santa Rosa. Indeed, two of his most famous followers, Oliphant and Nagasawa, made transoceanic journeys to join him. Oliphant gave up a career as a British diplomat and Member of Parliament, and Nagasawa left a life as a samurai in Japan. Nagasawa’s tale is the book’s strongest contribution, as he was one of the first Japanese immigrants to land in the United States. His story and eventual leadership of Fountaingrove are an important chapter of early Japanese-American history. Though essentially a small community in Santa Rosa, Fountaingrove had an impact that extended from New York during the Second Great Awakening across the globe to England and Japan. Featuring black-and-white archival photographs, this rigorous volume should be of interest not just to Santa Rosa residents curious about Fountaingrove’s presence (and uniquely designed round barn that left its architectural stamp for nearly a century) in their city, but also readers intrigued by the new movements of the 19th century. While the authors occasionally overuse lengthy quotes from primary sources, the narrative remains engaging as it deftly explores the captivating figures who defined Fountaingrove.

A well-researched and accessible examination of Fountaingrove’s utopian society.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-692-17702-0

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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