A more-misses-than-hits collection that will likely find a home in bathroom-reading bins.




A comedian presents a series of drawings and cartoons, most of which “are comedy. But some are serious. Or just weird.”

Friedlander has been performing stand-up comedy since he was 19, but he is best known for his roles in American Splendor and on 30 Rock, in which he delivered a hilarious performance as oddball TV writer Frank Rossitano. The eccentricity and offbeat humor of that role are amply reflected in this short book, which features crudely drawn cartoons on a variety of subjects (jokes about genitalia and scenes from New York City both feature prominently). Most of the pieces are a single page, though some provide a brief story—e.g., the adventures of “Gentrification Man,” a “superhero for the rich and overprivileged who “stand[s] up for the rights of corporations.” The style and tone of these cartoons contain echoes of the Far Side, the drawings of Demetri Martin (particularly his 2011 book, This Is a Book), and some of the rougher pieces at The Oatmeal, but most of Friedlander’s cartoons are not as darkly clever as the Far Side or as laugh-out-loud funny as Martin’s. There are a few highlights, however: a panel showing two buildings, one labeled “Yoga” and the other “50 Dollar Cupcakes,” with the caption “Where to Meet Women in Manhattan”; “Novice Shopping Cart Thief,” with a picture of a man walking down the sidewalk carrying a shopping cart above his head; and “Goth Crayon Box,” a drawing of a large box of crayons with just one black crayon in it. Unfortunately, these are few and far between in a book that seems like a partial draft or a home sketchbook that will eventually become part of a more substantial work.

A more-misses-than-hits collection that will likely find a home in bathroom-reading bins.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-30695-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Hachette

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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