A devastating and intelligently told story of siblings searching for answers that reveals how a family can be torn apart by...




A family court judge struggles to come to terms with her tumultuous childhood.

After a visit from her brother Eric, it became clear to English that dark questions from their childhood in Utah still haunted her: “How could I exorcise my mother yet carry her still? How had I deeply loved a monstrous father... [and] why did I seem successful as an adult and yet feel so utterly lost?” Eric soon arranged for a return to Salt Lake City to confront their parents and the Mormon Church. As a narrative device, this setup provides a compelling and even suspenseful structure to English’s debut memoir. Stories unfold within stories as these two adults attempt to revisit houses and family, reconnect with each other, and confess their darkest secrets. Memories of their parents’ bitter battles over money and religion expand thoughtfully into family mythologies of early pioneers and settlers. English traces her own personality back to these family memories and her poetic descriptions of the Utah mountains and their “geology of fear.”  She also examines the ripple effects of sexism, racism, and homophobia within a church she tried to challenge but soon fled. The answers Eric and English sought were never easy; the violent, alcoholic mother they remember was also the first to stand up for equality against her wealthy parents. But even more complicated is English’s disturbing relationship with her father. The author is fearless in revisiting incredibly difficult moments, moving effortlessly between perspectives of the detached judge and the naive young girl mistakenly confident in a father’s love. English crafts passages that are truly shocking and difficult to read, but then pushes them even further by using them to explain her own views on family law as a judge. She makes many arguments about the system and her experiences, some thought-provoking and some inevitably controversial. But like all the stories contained in her memoir, they are consistently well constructed and seem necessary for her personal salvation.

A devastating and intelligently told story of siblings searching for answers that reveals how a family can be torn apart by history, intolerance, and abuse.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-61783-0

Page Count: 346

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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