Delicious from start to finish, with only a very few lumps along the way.

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A REVOLUTION IN EATING

HOW THE QUEST FOR FOOD SHAPED AMERICA

A new history of American eating guaranteed to tempt all foodies.

Why don’t Americans eat blood pudding? Who created pumpkin pie, popcorn and rum, and how did such tasty treats come to be staples of the national cuisine? McWilliams (History/Texas State Univ.) details the history of cooking and eating from the early colonies through the Revolutionary War. Colonists, he shows, spurned Native American agriculture and tried to reestablish English gardens in Massachusetts. They did, however, adopt Indian corn; the son of the Massachusetts Bay Colony governor even traveled to London to argue its benefits before the Royal Society. In the Chesapeake Bay area, colonists wanted to fix fancy food that could be served at elegant and impressive dinner parties. Not content merely to regale us with culinary curiosities, the author constantly connects cooking and eating to other political and social matters. An infusion of British cookbooks in the early and middle 18th century, for example, helped instill a sense of belonging in a diverse and disparate group of colonists. Reverse logic prevailed during and after the Revolution, when Americans championed simpler fare. Their tables mirrored their politics; plain eating was a concrete rejection of European cuisine and European society, which Americans perceived as luxurious and effete. McWilliams tells a story of change and adaptation. Newcomers to the colonies brought culinary expectations with them, but eating inevitably evolved as Americans settled in their new home. The author earns points for inclusiveness by attending to the ways in which Native American, African-American and European-American cooking interacted to create a new cuisine. Meanwhile, an inconsistent tone—academic jargon like the anthropological term “foodways” butts heads with self-consciously casual lingo (“This discovery is more than a neat connection”)—is this delightful book’s only flaw.

Delicious from start to finish, with only a very few lumps along the way.

Pub Date: July 30, 2005

ISBN: 0-231-12992-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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