A brief but complex and personal discussion of metaphysical interpretations.


The Deja Vu Experiment

This meditation on metaphysical topics also serves as a tribute to the author’s late wife.

In this short book on spirituality and metaphysics, Renato jumps from personal experience to the texts of major religions to scientific discoveries to art as he explains how his wife, Diana, who passed away in her late 60s, introduced him to new ways of thinking. The concept of déjà vu is defined here as a matter of “gaps” in time and space, or as the author explains, “just as the Deconstructionists use gaps…to begin to explore the truth or ultimate reality behind a text, so too can these gaps in the space and time of the physical universe be used to follow Alice down the rabbit hole, so to speak.” After explaining how Diana encouraged him to re-evaluate his view of the world by developing a different understanding of reality, Renato draws on everything from René Magritte’s paintings to Zen koans to verses from the New Testament to explain his concept of the universe. The theme of light is one of Renato’s driving concepts, and he connects the idea of halos to the Impressionists’ representations of light and Einstein’s discoveries related to the properties of light. At times, the book takes on a memoirlike tone, as Renato shares events from his own life, many of which seem to have a fantastic element to them: “I started to become caught up in my own fame. I started to take pride in the apocryphal stories I had heard about me, no matter how far from the truth they were.” In certain moments, readers might be left wondering whether Renato is telling his own story or whether Diana and the unnamed narrator are instead fictional characters. In the end, Renato’s devotion to Diana—“Now, with help from Diana, I can look, I can see. I can be a good guy again”—seems to be just as important as the metaphysical concepts.

A brief but complex and personal discussion of metaphysical interpretations.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0989718615

Page Count: 97

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2014

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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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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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