On-pitch reporting documents an inspiring craft.

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THE VIOLIN MAKER

FINDING A CENTURIES-OLD TRADITION IN A BROOKLYN WORKSHOP

Reporting on the construction of one particular instrument, musician and journalist Marchese (Renovations, 2001) investigates how a box with strings attached can make such astonishingly beautiful sounds.

Before the eyes of the reporter, Brooklyn-based fiddle-maker Sam Zygmuntowicz, on a commission from violinist Eugene Drucker, fabricates a musical instrument out of spruce, maple, glue and varnish. Tradition is the keynote. Zygmuntowicz works in the centuries-old mode of Cremona’s skilled luthiers, who made the finest stringed instruments of all time. Master Stradivari, it is generally agreed, made the best of them, though to this day, no one seems to know exactly how. His ghost inhabits the workshops of the world’s luthiers. Craftsman Sam competes with old masters in his creation of a violin for Drucker. The author follows him on an edifying adventure from hewn log to work of art. Though Sam adds just a bit of innovation, the construction of the classic sound box, with its bass-bar and bridge, f-holes, fingerboard, scroll, ribs and, of course, its purfling of three layers of wood, has survived industrial revolution essentially unchanged. From start to final coat of varnish, there is no assembly line for the artisans whose professional lives are bounded by legend, myth and politics as much as by acoustic science. Marchese illustrates them all as Master Zygmuntowicz makes Drucker’s violin. Readers will be as eager as the author and the luthier to know if it satisfied the violinist.

On-pitch reporting documents an inspiring craft.

Pub Date: April 2, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-001267-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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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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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