A required field manual for chasers of illuminated orbs that lacks a wide appeal.

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Strange Lights in West Texas

An author sums up his research into an ongoing, unsolved mystery, the enigmatic lights seen at night around ground level near Marfa, Texas.

Bunnell, a Texas native with 37 years in the aerospace industry, relates his investigation of the Marfa Lights, which he also chronicled in three previous books (Hunting Marfa Lights, 2009, etc.). The lights are famous throughout North America, but particularly in the Lone Star State. These illuminated orbs have a history dating back to the Native Americans (who thought they were stars fallen to Earth) and cowboys (who mistook them for Native American campfires). Now they are a major attraction in Marfa, complete with an official public viewing area overlooking Mitchell Flat. While an ideal vantage point, Bunnell writes, the area also encompasses passing traffic, mirages, all-night ranch lights, aircraft navigation beacons, and even a tethered Air Force blimp. Cumulatively, these look-alikes, often mistaken for the genuine article, inspire dismissals from skeptics. The Marfa Lights (which Bunnell calls “MLs” for “mysterious lights”) really do exist, he claims, and he presents many full-page color reproductions captured on film and video and with a specially modified Canon digital SLR camera able to show infrared sources. His judgment: MLs exhibit both electric-plasma and heated-chemical (burning) qualities. The lights themselves, significantly, resist wind currents, though their heat signatures do not. Conspiracy theorists and believers in aliens, UFOs, and ghosts will likely be disappointed by Bunnell’s amazingly speculative but rational geological (para-geological?) explanation for MLs. Because the author has written extensively about the lights before, this summation has a bit of a patchy feel, more technical manual than a cohesive narrative of one man’s decadeslong search for an incredible truth. And, while some close-up MLs encounters were evidently unsettling to witnesses, Bunnell isn’t out to scare anyone. This is specifically for the benefit of aspiring Scullys and Mulders who Want to Believe and investigate for themselves, complete with numerous maps, do’s and don’ts, and tips on the terrain.

A required field manual for chasers of illuminated orbs that lacks a wide appeal.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9709249-7-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: Lacey Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2015

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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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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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