A little theater, a lot of death, plus sex, literature, and philosophy: 18 short pieces—ranging from the lightly anecdotal to the densely theoretical—by the eminent theater critic and historian (Shakespeare Our Contemporary, etc.). Readers looking for full-scale Kott essays on drama will be disappointed here. The most substantial theater items are brief but vivid evocations of the work of avant-gardists Tadeusz Kantor (``a Charon who ferried the dead back again to our side across the river of memory'') and Jerzy Grotowski—who ``stubbornly and persistently tried to turn theater back into ritual.'' There are also wry recollections of Kott's own occasional work as dramaturge and director, along with his account of a visit to a writhing Korean shamaness—whose mystical fit was ``more arresting than all the theaters of the first, second, and third worlds.'' In a more literary than theatrical vein, there are appreciations of writers who influenced Kott—Witold Gombrowicz, Bruno Schulz—and a relatively long analysis of the brutal, death-obsessed Gilgamesh epic. The book's most intense pages, however, belong to Kott's reflections on his own encounters with mortality: a hospital stay for TB and, perhaps, cancer; a near-fatal heart attack. (``Just as your skin remembers what sex is, so I now have coded in me what death is, and not as someone else's but as my own.'') Much less commanding is a quasi-Freudian, quasi-semiotic discussion of Life, Sex, and Food—a sexual triangle ``whose vertices correspond to Mouth, Genitals and Anus, defining a semantic system of relations and oppositions....'' A minor addition to Kott's critical oeuvre, then, but not without impressive moments.

Pub Date: May 25, 1992

ISBN: 0-8101-1019-9

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Northwestern Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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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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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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