More or less a transcript from an Air America show on the verge of being cancelled.



Standup comic Cho continues her reinvention as mouthy leftist radical, with mixed results.

Most comedians make a big show of being politically incorrect, trying their best to outrage what little rectitude is left in today’s jaded audiences, and few have been more successful at it than Cho. A potty-mouthed Korean-American worshipper of drag queens and trash pop culture, she’s taken an act based on shock value and impressions (mostly of her mother) and refined it over the years into a self-actualizing ritual of rage and rebellion directed at anyone who would try to define or limit her. Unfortunately, what can seem hilarious and liberating onstage frequently looks pedantic and whiny on the page. Her book certainly aspires to be more than the usual quick-and-dirty collection of warmed-over stage material padded with lots of white space and large typefaces. Refashioning herself into a political radical, the author eschews “people are stupid” complaints in favor of rants about the white male power structure, the idiocy of the media, George W. Bush and his cronies and on and on. In fact, rants are pretty much all she offers, running from topic to topic in no particular order. Her kamikaze approach, akin to that of Aaron McGruder’s faux-radical Boondocks comic strip, can work for a few pages at a stretch, but it doesn’t add up to much in the end. Here and there, Cho gets off a zinger, but for every good line, there’s plenty of blatantly obvious blather and the occasional shopworn accusation, such as calling Bill Cosby an Uncle Tom.

More or less a transcript from an Air America show on the verge of being cancelled.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2005

ISBN: 1-57322-319-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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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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