How does it feel? Pretty good, most of the time.

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LIKE A ROLLING STONE

BOB DYLAN AT THE CROSSROADS: AN EXPLOSION OF VISION AND HUMOR THAT FOREVER CHANGED POP MUSIC

Veteran rock critic and cultural historian takes on Dylan’s rock ’n’ roll legacy.

Marcus last held forth on Bob Dylan in his 1997 work, Invisible Republic (later retitled The Old, Weird America), which put Dylan’s 1967 “Basement Tapes” recordings with The Band under the microscope. Here, he tackles Dylan’s explosion into rock consciousness and mass culture with the release of the six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone” in the summer of 1965. It’s a cornerstone record in the Dylan canon: it was his highest-charting hit, reaching number two (kept from the top slot by, who else, the Beatles), and providing a staggering demonstration of his imagination and artistic ambition. Marcus calls the song “an event” and relates it to the cultural, social and political ferment of the time. He has always had a rare talent for making exciting and unexpected connections, and he does so here, pulling such diverse artists as R&B singer Clyde McPhatter, reggae stars the Wailers and the punk band the Replacements, among many others, into the mix. (Some digressions, like one about England’s Pet Shop Boys, are less convincing.) His retelling of Dylan’s move from folk musician to electric prophet is compelling. During the singer’s stormy world tour of 1966, Marcus says, “Like a Rolling Stone” was thrown into the faces of outraged audiences like a curse, and indeed the present book’s strongest suit is its recounting the thrill of that moment when Dylan’s vision and sense of risk came together in one (and only one) perfect take of a song that summed up his time. Unfortunately, as in Invisible Republic, the volume is also weighed down by Marcus’s overcooked and contorted attempts to get inside the music. When he grapples with Highway 61 Revisited, the album that featured “Like a Rolling Stone,” things grind to a numbing halt. On the history and reverberations of the music, however, Marcus is near the top of the game.

How does it feel? Pretty good, most of the time.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-58648-254-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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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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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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