What it was like to return to civilian life after eight and a half years as a POW, told blandly by Alvarez (Chained Eagle, YA, 1989—not reviewed), with help from Schreiner (A Place Called Princeton, 1984, etc.). Alvarez was the first US flyer shot down in Vietnam, and on his return in 1973 he was welcomed as so many Vietnam vets were- -finding himself alone (his wife divorced him during his captivity), living behind ``a plexiglass emotional shield'' in a country so divided that he was at odds with his mother and antiwar activist sister. His tale here is one of reconstruction and success, lacking the intensity, drama, and terror of most veterans' memoirs because Alvarez seems first and foremost a tough, levelheaded man, a survivor who was recognized in prison as a leader and a source of strength. An engineer by training, later an attorney, he took his role as an officer and his code of conduct with ultimate seriousness, he says, and was sustained by them. (He notes that POWs as a group did well in readjusting to civilian life.) The profound disruption and deep reassessments one expects are not here; nor is Alvarez's Hispanic heritage a prevailing concern. Far more prominent are his natural gravitation to high circles of power and his long relationship with President and Nancy Reagan and their associates. With his obvious capabilities, conservative bent, and practicality, Alvarez shrugs off misunderstandings (including a funny one with agent Swifty Lazar) and gets on with his life, first as deputy director of the Peace Corps, then in a similar position in the Veterans Administration, then as a Beltway entrepreneur. What we don't get is any close scrutiny of the how and why of Vietnam and its deeper effects on either veterans or this country. Lifeless prose in a memoir that also lacks the excitement, drive, and focus of self-discovery. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Dec. 16, 1991

ISBN: 1-55611-310-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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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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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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