Witty stories about caring for animals that delicately balance comedy and pathos.


Bite Me


A collection of essays captures the unpredictable, demanding life of an emergency veterinarian.

Lefkowitz (Did My Dog Eat a Sock? Did My Dog Eat a Rock?, 2014), a veterinarian for more than 20 years, currently practices outside Boise, Idaho. From veterinary school onward, she’s been jotting down peculiar professional moments. In such a stressful career—vets are disproportionately likely to commit suicide, she notes—it’s important to look for the lighter side. Whether it’s a kitten swallowing a condom or a dog sipping piña coladas, she often shakes her head over owner negligence and animal mischief. “My job is never boring,” the author proclaims. The book’s careful thematic structure also reflects the fact that diagnoses tend to bunch together. On “The Night of Traumas,” for instance, she treated a farm cat with an amputated lower leg, a dachshund hit by a car, and a feline attacked by two dogs. An edgy chapter on sex cannily pulls together disparate anecdotes: canine penis problems, the collection of semen from farm animals, customers’ touchiness about pets’ gender, and a sexual harassment charge she filed against a male technician. Indeed, many stories involve people’s odd behavior rather than animals’; the author renders in italics the often sarcastic responses she keeps to herself. Although it was heartbreaking to give owners bad news, Lefkowitz maintained a detached perspective when euthanizing several animals a day. On the other hand, she gave her heart to the elderly Chihuahua and accident-prone poodle she adopted. Neatly weaving in autobiographical snippets, Lefkowitz remembers her father’s sudden death and her mother’s severe injuries when hit by a car. Family tragedies prepared her for emergency situations and taught her to seize the day: she and her partner traveled the world by bike, marveling at how African doctors coped with equipment inferior to that in American veterinary clinics. The 13 black-and-white photographs are a nice addition, but minor typos (for example, “supercede” for “supersede”) and punctuation issues (“cars ignition,” instead of “car’s ignition”) detract slightly from the overall quality. Apart from a somewhat cheesy final chapter punning on tails/tales, these fun, good-natured vignettes are well-chosen.

Witty stories about caring for animals that delicately balance comedy and pathos.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-60234-8

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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