A swashbuckling maritime reminiscence with picaresque edges crafted by a gifted writer.

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OCEANS APART

THE WANDERINGS OF A YOUNG MARINER

A young, intrepid adventurer escapes his quirky family to discover a life at sea in this Vietnam era memoir.

Emmy-winning filmmaker and author McCarey (Islands Under Fire, 2012) grew up yearning to escape the dankness and insularity of New York state’s Hudson Valley and the weirdness of his Irish family. His father, whom McCarey calls “the Artist,” was a ne’er-do-well, goldbricking cartoon illustrator and admirer of the “Prince Valiant” strip. The Artist influenced his son with his tales of ocean voyages that happened only in his own head. The author’s kleptomaniac mom, Maggie, taught him how to steal, cheat in school, and ditch class. He pervades this narrative of his call to the seafaring life with a wry and insightful awareness of his own and others’ foibles. Smart and capable but an academic disaster, McCarey decided to go to New York Maritime College, a decision celebrated by Maggie but scorned by the Artist: “He ranted about the waste of my ‘precious god-given talent.’ What talent? I wondered.” Replete with many literary references gleaned from his reading at sea during slack times, the author shows a love of sentence fragments that he deploys to great effect in the tales of his many merchant marine voyages, often to Vietnam, aboard rusty hulks shipping material to the war, which he calls “the Beast.” At one point, he becomes interested in the “intriguing hints of life below the water’s surface: A patch of ocean boiling with baitfish. The purple sails of Portuguese man-of wars drifting on the Gulf Stream or moon jellies pulsing in the South China Sea.” The terrifying dangers of loose munitions in the hold during a roiling ocean, his encounters with colorful characters both at sea and in ports of call, his telling observations of human nature, the mindless routine life aboard ship that McCarey finds amusing—all of this the author recounts with humor and an uncanny ear for speech. He uses various dialects, a stylistic habit that may not appeal to every reader. But this is a minor flaw for an author whose gift is rendering the stuff of life on the ocean into vivid and telling prose.

A swashbuckling maritime reminiscence with picaresque edges crafted by a gifted writer.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-889901-66-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The Glencannon Press

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2019

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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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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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