A born-again believer makes a diverting adventure story out of embracing her sensitivity to benevolent spirits.


A Reluctant Spirit: A True Tale of God, Ghosts and a Skeptical Christian

Berry’s intriguing debut memoir suggests that belief in the paranormal, including ghosts and psychic experiences, can be reconciled with orthodox Christianity.

Goldfield Hotel, Nevada: a haunted site if ever there was one. Berry can’t quite believe she has agreed to come here, through her public relations role, to serve as an impartial observer for a TV station's paranormal investigation. “A good Christian woman…wouldn’t have put herself here to dabble in the occult,” she chides herself. Yet Berry had long been receptive to supernatural experiences—whether church-sanctioned or not. Her strong Christian faith sustained her through 18 years suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome, the result of a virus contracted on an African safari. There had been many signs of her paranormal sensitivity: For instance, she felt the presence of dead relatives and conveyed her grandfather’s message that it was time for her grandmother to join him, and she remembered a “Circus Master” figure haunting their duplex when she was a child. Berry took advantage of working at Truckee Meadows Community College to attend a ghost-hunting conference and train with a psychic, though she worried all along that such experiences were at odds with faith in God. However, friends encouraged her to keep an open mind; perhaps her sensitivity would bring her closer to God. As Berry returns to the Goldfield, where her framing story began, she’s unsure whether her health and faith are strong enough to withstand a full-scale haunting. Over a long night filled with sensing dead residents’ emotions, smelling ghostly odors, capturing footsteps and voices via EVP (electronic voice phenomena) recording, and feeling a hand stroking her hair, Berry’s “fear of ghosts transforms to awe.” Hearing the voice of God, having a telepathic friend affirm her sightings at the hotel, and experiencing a miraculous healing from her CFS all confirm for her that her path is not dangerous and that it has divine approval. Present-tense narration and convincing dialogue make for a gripping account, and Berry successfully balances abstract thought with physical realities; even a scene as simple as peeling potatoes in her home allows for extended contemplation of spiritual happenings. Intriguing as it is, the memoir is so full of subjective experience that it is unlikely to convince doubters.

A born-again believer makes a diverting adventure story out of embracing her sensitivity to benevolent spirits.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989872201

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Kathleen Berry

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2014

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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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