A fine treat for food buffs, less snotty than Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential but just as revealing on how a fancy...

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THE FOURTH STAR

DISPATCHES FROM INSIDE DANIEL BOULUD’S CELEBRATED NEW YORK RESTAURANT

Fine dining, politics, and a host of strange characters meet in this engaging, behind-the-scenes look at one of New York’s hippest restaurants.

Daniel is a place both to be seen and to eat well, at a fabulous cost: “The average dinner cover, meaning the cost of a meal for one person, including beverages, but not including taxes and gratuities, is $184.” The experience, suggests restaurant reviewer, food historian, and novelist Brenner (Greetings from the Golden State, 2001, etc.), is worth every bit of the cost; one of the many virtues of her insider’s look at the workings of a grand restaurant is its explanation of how costly it is to keep such a place running. (Just keeping a decent wine cellar on hand is an expensive proposition: Daniel’s holdings are valued at $800,000—money, Brenner points out, that is tied up in inventory and not earning interest.) Writing with a flair for on-the-street reportage, the author conveys such details as squabbles between chefs and sous-chefs, the curious ways of customers, many of whom the floor and kitchen staff rightly despise for their whiny demands, and the extraordinary problems attendant at every turn in bringing pleasure to people by way of the plate. Brenner is also superb at context; her disquisition on the general decline in American fine arts and the concomitant rise in the “living arts” is worth the price of admission. Non-foodies may not appreciate the drama around which she organizes her narrative: chef/owner Daniel Boulud’s quest to recapture a coveted four-star rating that had been stripped away for hotly contested reasons. But those who revere food will find Brenner’s approach as riveting as a good mystery, and just as much fun.

A fine treat for food buffs, less snotty than Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential but just as revealing on how a fancy meal makes it way to the table.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60808-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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