Pedestrian mini-biographies of three women who are household names among members of the Cuisinart set. Although Reardon (Oysters: A Culinary Celebration, not reviewed) clearly esteems her subjects, all of whom she met while preparing this book, her narratives lack the necessary spark to make them more than the sum of their many — and not always interesting — details. While she records meetings among the women, she does not weave the three biographies into a coherent whole exploring the US culinary scene. Instead, she follows M.F.K. Fisher from youth through three husbands (material about her menage a trois with husband number one and future husband number two made it into The Gastronomical Me), the Depression-era beginnings of her writing career, and friendship with Julia Child, whom she met as a co-contributor to a book on provincial French cooking. Child's career took off while she lived in Paris, where she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who wanted to produce a "big book" introducing American audiences to French cooking. Joining in with the willingness to work and the enthusiasm that later endeared her to television audiences, Child was instrumental in shaping what became the landmark Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The least appealing portrait is that of Alice Waters, who comes across as self-absorbed. Converted to fine dining during a student trip to France, Waters tried, on returning to Berkeley, to persuade fellow activists there to spruce up their menus, arguing that even striking French communists were discriminating eaters. With determination, she and her mostly novice employees made a success of their imaginative restaurant in Berkeley's "gourmet ghetto," and by the time The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook was published in 1982, Waters was, as Reardon notes, "So In, We Could Die." Strictly for the adoring fans of these culinary celebrities. Others will find it indigestible.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1994

ISBN: 0-517-57748-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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