MENCKEN'S LAST CAMPAIGN

H. L. MENCKEN ON THE 1948 ELECTION

The '48 presidential campaign was Mencken's last hurrah; soon he would suffer a massive stroke and dwindle into silence. But how could the great curmudgeon resist the '48 conventions? American politics was in spectacular disarray, and Mencken loved it. Joseph Goulden has edited and provided an introduction to Mencken's savaging of the candidates and their sideshows: Dewey, Taft, Truman, Henry Wallace leading away the Progressive pack, Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrat walkout. No one looks to Mencken for fairness; malice toward all and charity for none was his credo. He judged politicians as performers—orators, buffoons, circusmen. He had a magnificent ear for the inanities of campaign speeches, the cacophony of bands and choirs, the "loud brassy politicianesses" who festooned the platform; his eye took in the banal placards, the Republican minions in "their seersucker suits and sweatproof plastic collars," the pawing and nuzzling of the delegations. Some pronounced his early campaign coverage a bit subdued; he warmed to his task with the coming of the "Wallace evangel," mocking the gathering tribes of "Negro Elks. . . Armenian Youth of America, the National Council of Women Chiropractors" and the rest of the motley band that clustered around "Swami" Wallace. Conservatives and reactionaries will continue to claim him, with some justification. Mencken was an implacable foe of the New Deal and Truman, a snide anti-feminist, a jeering red-baiter. But this is at least partly to miss the point: Mencken the journalist could cut through the flummery of party politics like no one else. Would that he were around to write up the '76 election.

Pub Date: July 13, 1976

ISBN: 0915220180

Page Count: 160

Publisher: New Republic

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1976

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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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