An often gripping account of some fascinating women of the air.




A collection of interviews with female fliers from the early years of aviation history.

This big, satisfying book from Broughton (The Levees That Break in the Heart, 2016, etc.) consists of 29 interviews that he conducted over the past four decades with women who were, in their youth, rough-and-ready trailblazers in the realm of domestic aviation. These women broke barriers by being barnstormers, aerial acrobats, bush pilots, flight instructors, and participants in cross-country aerial races. One is the legendary stunt pilot Dorothy Hester Stenzel, “a record holder in aerobatic flying, holding early world records in loops and several other categories,” who was born in 1910; another is Kimberley Olson, who entered the U.S. Air Force in 1979 and went on to become one of its eight female flying squadron commanders. Olson recalls that, as a little girl, she looked at contrails crossing the Iowa sky and told her mother that she’d like to be a pilot someday. In all of these interviews, Broughton offers minimal exposition, setting up each segment with basic biographical information—most begin with a photo of the subject and occasional references to books they’ve written—and then launching straight into a series of questions that reveal his in-depth knowledge of each woman’s life and career. Throughout the collection of Q-and-A’s, he wisely steps back and lets his subjects do most of the talking, showcasing their enormous personalities and often caustic wit. The result is absolutely delightful. At one point, for example, Broughton asks pioneering flight academy owner Claire Walters when she first got into flying; she laughs and answers, “I think it started when I fell out of my crib, the first time I fell on my head. No, I was born this way, wanting to fly. I never planned to do anything else.” National aerobatic champion Patty Wagstaff recalls reading the flight-history novels of Ernest K. Gann and noting ironically, “It’s funny because [he] was pretty sexist...the women in his books are flight attendants or babes.” Veteran flight instructor Louise Prugh, born in 1916, responds to the interviewer's calling her a pioneer with a simple humility of a kind that runs through most of the interviews here: “I just wanted to do it because I liked the world from the sky.” Broughton often showcases his subjects’ skills; when he mentions to flight instructor Amelia Reid that she must have come close to power lines during some of her woollier flights, for instance, she notes that she sometimes flew under them. Over the course of these interviews, Broughton uses playful tact and careful diligence to effectively bring the worlds of the various women to vivid life. A bit more interstitial narrative might have made for a smoother, more informative reading experience, along the lines of Keith O’Brien’s excellent 2018 book Fly Girls. However, the subjects here make such lively, funny, and wise company that readers will scarcely miss additional context.

An often gripping account of some fascinating women of the air.

Pub Date: May 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-912350-54-7

Page Count: 586

Publisher: Open Look Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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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