A personal tale of mental illness that is hopeful yet not as powerful as it could have been.



A memoir detailing the difficulty of living with bipolar disorder as well as the potential for hope.

One of eight siblings, Coghlan experienced a happy but frugal childhood on a farm in Australia. She opens her memoir with fond memories of horse riding and life on a farm handling cattle. Unfortunately, these amusing country episodes were soon overshadowed by the arrival of an older cousin with sexually inappropriate behavior toward Coghlan, the first in a chain of events that revealed her mental instabilities. After suffering her first mental breakdown and hospitalization as a teenager, she was left wondering, “Why didn’t I get real support from my family, communication with realistic advice, and understanding for someone who is at a vulnerable age and who didn’t deserve to be left alone, lost and messed up?” Soon after, the psychiatrists diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, beginning a long struggle that featured medication and relapses. Coghlan’s jobs and relationships continued to fluctuate along with her mental state, except for the constant adoration of her boyfriend, Martin. Eventually the two were married and soon after had their first child, Jacob. Despite continued relapses, a battle with postnatal depression and a strained relationship with her sister Dianne, Coghlan moves to the final section of her memoir, which “expresses the importance and the privilege of sustaining a balance through friendship, faith, and hope.” Her writing is courageous in its honesty and admirable for shedding light on the daily struggles faced by people who suffer from mental illness. However, as a narrative, her memoir feels repetitive and stiff because Coghlan approaches her story with strict, often dry reporting of her situations and emotional states. At one point, she writes of an altercation with a fellow patient, saying only that “she was an angry patient and not one to mess with. She went somewhere else.” Coghlan’s is an important story, but here and elsewhere she misses opportunities for moments richer in dramatic tension that would affect her readers even more.

A personal tale of mental illness that is hopeful yet not as powerful as it could have been.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499015621

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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