Evocative profiles of Thai young adults growing up in hard circumstances but with a hopeful future.




Youths living at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok wrestle with the basics—cheap food, among them—in these coming-of-age stories.

In 15 autobiographical tales, Limpichart (A Man in Saffron Robes, 2013) writes of teenagers, most of them students at Bangkok colleges, who get free lodging at an unnamed temple in exchange for doing chores and maintenance work for the monks. For the temple boys, most of them from impoverished rural families who send them skimpy and irregular stipends to live on, it’s a life of austerity and persistent hustling to make ends meet. Several stories follow the travails of boys trying to get food to supplement the meager temple fare of rice with fish sauce; their various stratagems include begging, borrowing, and selling blood. Residents must guard their clothing from thieves and often pawn their meager possessions to eke out the days until the next money order arrives from home. The daily struggle for survival is a persistent, though gentle, picaresque adventure that most of the boys weather with a little help from their friends. Meanwhile, Limpichart’s alter ego/narrator engages with problems of moral responsibility, ponders his prospects—a post in the government bureaucracy is the holy grail for these students—and takes in a cast of colorful acquaintances, including a hard-luck aspiring boxer who is hopeless in the ring, a gay roommate who makes a pass at him, and a sly con man who scams food by crashing funerals and weddings. In Landau’s workmanlike translation, these winsome narratives unfold as loose-limbed, shaggy dog stories that often close with an ironic punch line and an Aesopian moral. (“A birthday is an occasion for acquiring merit by offering food to monks, not for snatching meals away from them.”) The content and conflicts are fairly tame—the stories are often used in lessons in Thai schools—but together they paint a rich profile of life and longings among young strivers. At their best, as in a tale in which the narrator returns to his hometown when his father dies, Limpichart achieves a quiet but moving emotional power.

Evocative profiles of Thai young adults growing up in hard circumstances but with a hopeful future.

Pub Date: June 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9894432-1-0

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Middle Way Multimedia & Publishing Services

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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