His book sometimes too detailed for its own good, Blecha gets the allure of the game and the characters populating its...




The end-all, be-all history of the World Series of Poker, whether you like it or not.

Once confined to bachelors’ apartments, men’s clubs and dingy backrooms, poker is now, with all the websites and cable shows reveling in its alternately dull and dramatic minutiae, as popular as the Las Vegas Strip itself. The Series began in 1970 as a publicity stunt: Nick “The Greek” Dandalos, who had supposedly broken every East Coast roller, including 1919 World Series fixer Arnold Rothstein, got Horseshoe owner Benny Binion to host a poker game with the highest stakes in history. From then on, year after year, the Horseshoe was home to an annual gathering of poker’s dark stars, the eccentric natures of whom provide most of what is worthwhile in Grotenstein and Reback’s intermittently entertaining book. Best of the lot is Amarillo Slim, whose prodigious talent was matched only by his outfits and habit of taking absolutely any kind of bet (he once bet $37,500 that a fly would land on a particular sugar cube), and was the inspiration for Kenny Rogers’s song “The Gambler.” Binion himself made for a good story, too: A Texas roughneck, he killed two men before being run out of the state by a sheriff who couldn’t be bribed. Though they keep card-play analysis to a minimum, the authors’ recording of each year’s tournament may prove less than thrilling to the non-obsessed. As the years pile up, the Series grows bigger, ESPN starts broadcasting it and the tables of shady old pros start getting replaced by young suburban kids who learned to play online. As of 2006, the whole operation is being moved to the Rio, just off the Strip.

His book sometimes too detailed for its own good, Blecha gets the allure of the game and the characters populating its darker fringes.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34835-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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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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