An unusual, engaging historical biography of a California artist.

READ REVIEW

CLARA MASON FOX

PIONEER, PAINTER, AND POET OF ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

A beautifully illustrated book by a former teacher that sheds light on the intriguing life of a pioneer woman.

Passero’s debut tells the little-known story of Clara Mason Fox, an artist and poet who led a rather adventurous, exciting life. Fox, the author’s husband’s ancestor, was a member of a pioneer family who moved to California in 1887. She later traveled to New York to attend art school and became a painter and poet, capturing some early images of Laguna Beach and Orange County. Passero’s project was spurred by the discovery of a box in a family attic, and it’s a labor of love that sheds light on a fascinating time in American history. She describes her extensive research in her quest to discover as much about Fox as she could. The author worked as a teacher for many years and this book seems to be aimed in part at younger readers; as a result, she weaves in sentences such as “Imagine what it was like not having any of these [modern] conveniences” to help bring the setting to life. Her inclusion of some of Fox’s paintings and sketches also works very well, resulting in an unusual combination of text and visual art that illustrates Fox’s artistic talents. The author sometimes fleshes out historical context and descriptions of early California landscapes at the expense of Fox’s story, and readers may find themselves wanting to know more about this pioneer woman’s inner life. That said, the book provides a good jumping-off point for exploring both Fox’s life and the history of the state she loved so much. Passero reveals that local California organizations have recently shown interest in Fox’s work and that some of Fox’s paintings will be exhibited at the Huntington Library in San Marino. She says that she hopes to continue generating interest in Fox’s life and work, and with this book, she seems to be doing a great job of making that happen.

An unusual, engaging historical biography of a California artist.

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62652-008-0

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Mill City Press, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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