An autobiographical musing on mortality, suffering, and modern life from octogenarian van der Post, in which his often naive ponderings are relieved by vivid references to his beloved Kalahari and its Bushmen, still his true mÇtier. After a long life rich in adventure and friendship, van der Post is well qualified to reflect on the troubling big questions. His belief in the underlying unity between all living things and the importance of the subconscious has certainly been a major theme in his books on Africa (Testament to the Bushmen, 1985, etc.). Now, however, affected by the death of a son and two beloved friends from cancer, he attempts not only to link cancer, which he regards as a post-WW II disease, with all that is wrong with the present, but to find metaphysical meaning in its occurrence. Going beyond Susan Sontag's idea of cancer as metaphor, van der Post describes it as a condition for attaining grace and salvation. Those afflicted are paradoxically blessed, for they are able to transcend contemporary greed and self-absorption. Recalling first his childhood, special friends, and wartime experiences, van der Post finally comes to Blady, a mare whose story, he says, exemplifies his contentions. Rescued by friends from ploughing the fields, Blady does the impossible and wins a prestigious competition. This victory is van der Post's epiphany and his balm: Blady is not only a symbol of waiting for ``a readiness'' for whatever fate decrees, but, in her unlikely success, a reminder that ``in the short run [we] may have to go through darkness and death but will be joined inevitably with the last great story of all, and its happy ending.'' The message is heartfelt, but the antique flavor of van der Post's reasoning and his simplistic tenets about illness overwhelm all that is fresh and moving here.

Pub Date: May 21, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-11412-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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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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