This collection presents a vivid, yet often simplistic, perspective on a young person’s struggle with cancer.




This debut collection of biting, unsentimental and uneven monologues unfolds into the true story of one young woman’s battle with cancer.

While planning a move from Colorado, 27-year-old Luther discovers a painful lump in her left breast. She’s drifting between an unsatisfying job, recent heartbreak and plans to flee the West for New York City. The author has no family history of the disease, no other risk factors and no reason to suspect that—as she plots the next phase of her life—she is going to face overwhelming questions of mortality and a sharp, premature drift from youth brought about by cancer treatment and the uncertainties of remission. The monologues give voice to a wry, Gen-Y sensibility that is poignantly disarming—“I developed a crush on a fellow poison victim,” Luther writes of her attraction to another patient in the chemo treatment room. Still, her tone too often veers into pithy and snarky aspects of a 20-something’s glib concerns about the disease’s corporeal affects—“My hotness factor was pretty weak.” Just as the author seems to grapple with the depths of her diagnosis in the especially strong installments “I Love New York” and “Skeptical Looks,” those weighty moments devolve into increasingly vague observations about the everyday life of a cancer patient. Luther ponders soap operas, fairy tales and an orange Tic Tac, all clunky symbols of the protagonist’s slippery sense of vitality. Ultimately, her decision to deliver her experience in 19 small plays overwhelms the power of the narrative, forcing the author to cast about unsuccessfully for a dense and compelling story that might better be crafted in a book of creative nonfiction.

This collection presents a vivid, yet often simplistic, perspective on a young person’s struggle with cancer.

Pub Date: June 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615484501

Page Count: 132

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2011

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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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