This generic cookbook alters old favorites slightly and then tries to pass them off as newfangled. Chocolate chip cookies that use chunks of chocolate rather than pre-formed chips are hardly revolutionary, but that's the sort of substitution that preens as innovation here. Even the fancier options, like brownies gilded with edible gold leaf, have been trendy for some time now. In recipe headers Johnson (Sweet Dreams of Gingerbread, not reviewed) sounds like a culinary hayseed, announcing earnestly that ``hazelnuts...are popular in European baked goods and are becoming more popular here.'' More problematic are the frequent lapses in logic, e.g., a 12-inch log of marbled icebox cookie dough cut into 1/4-inch slices naturally yields four dozen cookies, not three dozen. While all results tasted fine (although cooking times are on the long side so that if cookies aren't watched carefully, they'll burn), none resembled Holly Stewart's brightly busy photographs. It was impossible to shape the runny almond-and-raisin-studded batter that resulted from the biscottini recipe into a log, as instructed, or into anything other than a giant glob. They were tasty spice cookies, but they lacked the hard texture of true biscotti. Crisp, flourless hazelnut snaps were heavenly, but they welded themselves to the aluminum foil on which they were baked and needed to be chipped off in pieces. Too little art, too little science.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1994

ISBN: 0-8118-0437-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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



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.


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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