BENEATH BLOSSOM RAIN

DISCOVERING BHUTAN ON THE TOUGHEST TREK IN THE WORLD

Debut memoir of a man’s discovery of spiritual rejuvenation while hiking Bhutan's daunting Snowman Trek.

In 2007, outdoors writer Grange began his 24-day journey along the “toughest trek in the world” by tying a string of prayer flags to some rocks, only to watch them flutter free, a setback representative of “all the loose ends in [his] life. As an unmarried, middle-aged, failed screenwriter, the author tackled the trail in order to surrender “to the adventure” and peer “resolutely forward”—yet throughout, he remained firmly cemented to the worries of the past. A man at odds with his dream, Grange continually contemplated the fading likelihood of his success as a screenwriter, acknowledging that “life had its own timeline,” and that the only control he possessed was the ability to put one foot in front of the other on the trail. In this way, the book is an adventurous travel memoir focused on perspective. In one instance, Grange gulped a beer and found his taste buds tingling, not because of the beer itself, but because “[e]verything tastes better on a hiking trail.” Similarly, he soon discovered that all successes were sweetest when laced with suffering. As the author endured the grueling trail, he began viewing the world through a different lens. While in a particularly grumpy mood, a fellow hiker reminded him that every hour of sadness costs a person “3,600 seconds of happiness”—a statistic that rattled Grange out of his funk once and for all. A highly readable journey of one man's renewed lease on life.

 

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8032-3433-8

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Bison/Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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