Memoirs of an academic lucky enough to know the authors he teaches as contemporaries. Although Klinkowitz (English/Univ. of Northern Iowa) has written surveys of American fiction and edited collections on baseball and WWII RAF pilots, his academic specialty is contemporary experimental writing—at least, what was contemporary in the 1960s. Among his credits as an editor is a Vonnegut bestseller, Wampeters, Foma, and Granfalloons, a collection of early stories and essays (Vonnegut vetoed the proposed original title: —Rare Vonnegut sounds so utterly posthumous,— murmured the novelist). Vonnegut’s challenge to Klinkowitz as critic? —Vonnegut’s career made for a virtual checklist of noncanonicity—; his —work was just too new, too diverse, and too unorganized to allow any single critic’s view to function comprehensively.— Klinkowitz’s friendly relations with Vonnegut seem not especially intimate; his dealings with the mercurial Jerzy Kosinski underscore Kosinski’s distancing manipulation. Many of the book’s other scenes come across as softened episodes from the academic novels of Malcolm Bradbury: e.g., a drunk Ronald Sukenick propositioning every woman in a faculty party’s greeting line. In a smarting coda, Clarence Major, the only black writer in this white “SuperFiction” bunch, is portrayed as now keeping different literary company, writing more in the vein of realism, and deleting the ’60s from his vita. One anecdote sums up Klinkowitz’s experience of the writer-critic relationship: He was berated by Donald Barthelme for defending the inclusion of some also-rans of experimental fiction in his Literary Disruptions by claiming to have a .375 batting average in his table of contents. “You’re not the hitter,” Barthelme countered. “We’re the hitters. You’re the fielder, and you’re not going to get anywhere if you keep dropping every other ball.” Klinkowitz averages a little better than that here. A view of the passing literary parade from the porch of the ivory tower.

Pub Date: July 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7914-3723-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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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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