A useful, attractive travel guide and memoir recommended for anyone curious about Southeast Asia.

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Cycling the Mekong

A 10-WEEK BICYCLE RIDE THROUGH VIETNAM, CAMBODIA, THAILAND AND LAOS

From the Cycling Adventures series , Vol. 1

In this photo-rich debut memoir, an urban planner recalls bicycling through Southeast Asia, his camera in tow.

Daly had been to Vietnam before, way back in the 1960s as a diver directing “explosive ordnance disposal work” for the U.S. military. But the journey he chronicles here is a much different, far happier one. From November 2013 to January 2014, Daly cycled from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) north through Cambodia, east through Thailand and Laos, then south to Ho Chi Minh City again, hewing to the long Vietnamese coastline. Though he saw many of the same places he saw in different circumstances 40 years ago, little was familiar. Vietnam “embraced consumerism and market capitalism,” women on the street wore skirts instead of black pajamas, cheap consumer goods were hawked at every corner, and in a city like Danang, “nothing was recognizable apart from misty, foggy views of Marble Mountain, the harbor and the Han River.” Eschewing the daily journal format, Daly organizes his book like a long, in-depth, and personalized travel encyclopedia. Separate sections walk readers through guesthouses where he stayed and the state of their facilities, how to avoid dishonest touts and fixers “smooth and slippery as an overripe mango,” and what to eat and what not to eat—“Cook it or peel it; if in doubt, boil it,” a friend wisely cautioned. Color photographs accompany the text, mostly Daly’s own colorful snaps but also maps and a handful of professional landscape shots. The photos are generally excellent, not professionally framed but, perhaps because of their casual quality, convincingly true to life. Readers are offered glimpses of riverboat vendors, idle boys killing time between jobs, the furious colors of a Hanoi street scene, the stillness of a large white Buddha. Daly is a competent, often eloquent writer, as when he describes an evening walk through Ho Chi Minh City, smelling the “huge array of orchid varieties; the fresh-cut aroma of tropical hardwoods; smoky haze wafting through the streets and alleys as charcoal fires were lit at dusk.” A few readers might be inspired to retrace his path. 

A useful, attractive travel guide and memoir recommended for anyone curious about Southeast Asia. 

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5143-5753-8

Page Count: 118

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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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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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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