Gribbin, a glib expositor of things astronomical, dons his speculative robes to predict some cold turns for the earth and the sun in the coming decades. Half the text is an up-to-date summary of solar and earth history. Here are familiar accounts of distance/mass/temperature relationships which support life on earth but hardly elsewhere in the solar system. The sun's position as a medium-sized star, and its fate compared with larger or smaller sisters, is also developed along conventional lines. What's new and different is the second half of the text. Here Gribbin counters orthodoxy with assertions that constancy and regularity are not characteristic of our sun—or anybody else's for that matter. For reasons known or unknown, the sun is perturbed, and may be generating 10% less heat at its core. The evidence is somewhat arcane. Gribbin relates it to the absence of certain species of neutrinos detectable in deep caves and to the varied complexities and rhythms of sunspot activity and solar flares. To make matters worse, the sun's "off-colorness" seems to render it more vulnerable to further disturbances—for example, by gravitational pulls exerted by the larger planets in certain alignments, All this can lead to sunquakes and maybe earthquakes and glacial chills. Gribbin is quick to acknowledge the taint of astrology when one introduces planetary alignments into astronomical arguments, and he is certainly opposed to horoscopes as such. What he does defend is his right to challenge conventional wisdom which—for no reason—has for long supported reason and order in the sun. And, he asks, might there not also be a slight disorder in the galaxy as a whole? Lively and discussable—by pros as well as armchair astronomers.

Pub Date: March 3, 1980

ISBN: 0440518547

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1980

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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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