THE REST OF US

DISPATCHES FROM THE MOTHER SHIP

A beguiling collection of sometimes insightful, often amusing columns from a mother of five who is also a widow, a bestselling author, and not Erma Bombeck. There is no question that the late Bombeck is missed for her heartfelt and pungent commentaries. But the void that she has left does not have to be filled by an Erma manquÇ. Mitchard, author of the novel that Oprah turned into a bestseller, The Deep End of the Ocean (1996), is of another generation and another lifestyle, the now-single mother, one of whose children was adopted after her husband died. Her syndicated newspaper column is in some ways the shallow end of her ocean, although it deals with concerns that she will undoubtedly address in greater depth in future novels. The author proclaims that she and her audience are all those women who are not Martha Stewart, not the girlfriend who was both calculus prodigy and cheerleader, but ``the rest of us.'' The column, she says, has been her anchor, the quasi-diary in which she begins to confront the questions of, for instance, death and adoption, both for herself and her children. But she also reflects on—and occasionally skewers— such concerns as women's magazines that herald make-work crafts (elves from detergent bottles) versus men's magazines that deal with really useful stuff (building shelves, repairing light fixtures), being expelled from the car pool, and meeting the mother of the baby you are about to adopt. Some of her reflections are funny, some aim for the jugular, some are genuinely moving, like those on life as a widow. Cherry-picked from newspaper columns, this collection is necessarily formulaic in style and uneven in content. Read it, nevertheless: It's written by a woman who dredges for what matters. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-670-87662-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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