From out of the literary jungle, a fast-paced, ripsnorting biography of the bestselling American writer of the first half of the 20th century. Though Tarzan may be Burroughs” most lasting claim to fame, nearly all of his dozens and dozens of books are still profitably in print. With an oeuvre that spans the pulp universe from sci-fi adventures to costume dramas to westerns, Burroughs was as successful as he was prolific. Though he didn—t turn his hand to writing till the relatively advanced age of 37, he quickly made up for lost time, regularly churning out 100,000-word serialized novels in just a couple of months. Before he found his muse, as he—d cheerfully admit later, he—d failed at almost every occupation he—d tried his hand at, from soldier to policeman to salesman. Writing was a quick, almost desperate attempt to eke out his slender income. But in only a few years, he was able to turn to writing full-time. It was the golden age of American popular fiction, with dozens of magazines paying top dollar for everything from stories to full-blown novels. While few admired Burroughs’s vigorous but workaday prose, his storytelling gifts, even if they got hackneyed from time to time, were what attracted increasingly large audiences. But Burroughs’s true gift was in pioneering cross-promotion: “As he saw it, the act of writing was only part of his job description; marketing, he grasped, could and should be its own fine art.” Burroughs was one of the first writers to incorporate, one of the first to build a multimedia empire, one of the first to license his creations to everyone from ice-cream makers to toy manufacturers. Taliaferro, a former editor at Newsweek and Texas Monthly, has put together a fast-paced, highly readable account that walks a perfect line between appreciation and critical awareness. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 12, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-83359-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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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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