A charming, but ultimately low-stakes, memoir of childhood and basketball.


Growing Up

Schoen recounts his farm boy childhood and college basketball career in this debut memoir.

Born in 1941, the oldest son in a family that would eventually include 13 children, Schoen grew up in rural western Ohio in a community of German Catholics who, despite having lived in the United States for more than a century, had only recently transitioned to speaking primarily in English. Modernization was slow to come to the family farm, which was not yet connected to the electrical grid when Schoen was born. As a boy, he learned to hitch workhorses to the plow and the hayfork. “When I was very young,” Schoen remembers, “the rare appearance of an airplane in the sky prompted a yell to others in the family not to miss the sight.” Horses were eventually replaced by machinery. Likewise, Schoen broke with the tradition of earlier generations of his family by graduating from high school and going on to the University of Dayton on a basketball scholarship. He played starting forward for the UD Flyers, who would eventually win the 1962 National Invitation Tournament championship. Throughout his memoir, Schoen illustrates the importance of work, play, education, and evolving with the times. The prose is cleareyed, and Schoen capably renders the particulars of his youth. The frequent photographs that accompany the text are redolent of rural life in postwar Midwestern America, and even readers with no connection to that time or place will be charmed by this account. The only problem is that Schoen’s life is not especially momentous. Even his basketball accomplishments read as rather unremarkable all these decades later. The book is a very pleasant document of farm life in the 1940s and 1950s, but it is difficult to imagine the memoir being of interest to many people who aren’t directly connected to either the Schoen family or Mercer County, Ohio.

A charming, but ultimately low-stakes, memoir of childhood and basketball.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5191-9863-1

Page Count: 222

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2016

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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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