A delightful, informative homage to a life of flight.


Life Inside the Dead Man's Curve


A pilot’s debut memoir highlights the joys and risks of flying.

There’s been no scarcity of movies and books valorizing the miracle of aviation, but few have effectively captured the personal perspectives of the pilots themselves. Here, McDonald describes, through anecdotal reflection, his life as a helicopter pilot and artfully reveals the perils unique not only to aviation, but to his particular vehicle. He discusses his start in naval aviation school, where he initially trained to become a jet pilot. His struggles with motion sickness were so severe that he changed course and learned how to fly a helicopter—a less glamorous option but one with plenty of its own dangers. Eventually, he became a pilot in the Texas Shock Trauma Air Rescue program, which provided him with a diverse array of challenges that ranged from the routine (transporting medical personnel) to the extraordinary (undertaking rescue missions in extreme weather). In one of the book’s highlights, the author gives a play-by-play depiction of a harrowing rescue in torrential rain that caused severe flooding. Although the prose is consistently lighthearted and even humorous, it also seriously chronicles the palpable sense of risk in McDonald’s profession: “Aviation, in general, is inherently unforgiving,” he writes. “The list of competent, well-respected aviators who have died while plying their trade is sobering to contemplate.” In fact, his career was eventually brought to an end by injuries that inflicted permanent neurological damage. He astutely portrays the psyche of the pilot, a fascinating brew of perpetual preparedness and type A bravado. He also leavens his depictions of crisis and insecurity with breezy storytelling, as when he tells a genuinely funny story about how a conversation with Lee Harvey Oswald’s daughter partially inspired his career as a STAR pilot. At times, readers may be overwhelmed by the minutiae of administrative details, but they’ll likely welcome the author’s lengthy presentations of the technical aspects of flying. This is a memoir, first and foremost, but McDonald’s devotion to capturing the character of flight promises broader appeal.

A delightful, informative homage to a life of flight.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4575-4494-1

Page Count: 380

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet