Acerbic but entertaining: a good read for Anglophiles and prospective visitors.

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MUSTN’T GRUMBLE

AN ACCIDENTAL RETURN TO ENGLAND

An expatriate rediscovers the country he left behind and lets the chips, including the one on his shoulder, fall where they may.

The author, a former teacher who left England somewhat accidentally for New Zealand, returns quite calculatingly after 18 years to write a book about what he will discover. His mission is to recreate a 1926 motor tour taken by once-popular British writer H. V. Morton, who drove “a Bertie Wooster car [and had] Bertie-Woosterish encounters that he reported in Bertie-Woosterish style.” Morton’s aim was “to find the real England,” and Bennett follows in his tire tracks from London west to Cornwall, Wales, the Midlands, the industrial North and back again. This circuit encompasses some of the country’s most visited locales, including those depressingly “tarted up” (in the author’s view) for the tourist trade. Bennett provides a candid impression of these byways and the people who now live there, waiting to welcome—or not—the casual visitor and share—or not—their revered—or not—heritage. The landscape has changed since the days of Morton. The growth of street crime is reflected in police warning signs posted in even the most secluded villages. The culture of the motorway itself, with BMWs and Volkswagens streaming off the major routes into local car parks, has been permanently altered. Bennett travels across empty windswept moors and private green glades. He visits pubs and has random encounters in the streets. In the face of waning traditions and modern tensions, he still manages to capture the essence of England.

Acerbic but entertaining: a good read for Anglophiles and prospective visitors.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7432-7627-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Headline

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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