Everyone has a story and anyone can become an author according to this encouraging and worthy book.




The founder of a nonprofit group for African American writers interviews diverse authors about their journeys to publication.

Slaughter (Clear Skinned, 2002) founded the United Black Writers Association after realizing that she “didn’t see many people of color presenting at writer’s conferences.” In this inspiring book—the organization’s first publication—she sits down with a half-dozen authors in a range of genres to talk about their backgrounds, processes, paths to getting published, and suggestions for novices. The core message: “just write!” Each interview is presented in a Q-and-A format, with Slaughter quizzing participants about the writing life. One woman wrote a picture book inspired by stories her father told her. Another turned to producing fiction after a layoff, and a third explains that his books were born from his experiences as a minister. Every author has a different history, but the overarching theme is the same—that some tales need to be told and that with persistence and concentration, writers can see their words come to life on the page. This urge to share stories is particularly acute for black authors, who are wrestling with a long legacy of being silenced. “This work has to be done. Our history is in the social landscape. We have to write about it,” says Angela Puryear-McDuffie, who collected tales from people in her Washington, D.C., neighborhood in order to craft a narrative history of the community. Several writers are self-published while others opted for a more traditional route. But all have sage counsel for beginners about the importance of discipline and the value of a good editor. They also share tips on marketing a work and balancing writing with a 9-to-5 career. While those seeking nuts-and-bolts advice might not find what they’re looking for here, Slaughter provides a beneficial service by showing how authors turned their ideas into books. Though focused specifically on African American writers, any reader dreaming about becoming an author will find support here.

Everyone has a story and anyone can become an author according to this encouraging and worthy book.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73397-670-1

Page Count: 100

Publisher: United Black Writers Association

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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