Sure to be snatched up by fans.




Gaelic gabber Keyes (Sushi for Beginners, 2003, etc.) provides a treat for fans: a book divided among essays and stories, the former tastier than the latter.

The nonfiction pieces that take up half of Keyes’s latest (flip the book over to read the fiction taking up the rest) are written with grace and good humor, giving even the most seemingly trivial of experiences a goodly going-over, and all of it with at least one brilliant turn of phrase per page. Keyes is at her best when writing on travel, as in “Stack’n’fly,” in which she does her determined best to puncture the myth that it’s better to travel than to arrive: “It is NOT better to travel. To travel is AWFUL and to arrive is LOVELY.” Elsewhere, readers are treated to her many loves (Kit Kats, 16 hours of sleep a day, being sick in bed so that somebody has to take care of her) and many hates (exercise, sun-tanning, her fellow Irishmen’s need when traveling to be the life of the party). The author includes a hilarious account of her travels to Russia: “Flight to St. Petersburg. The plane was disappointingly normal. Seat belts and the like.” It’s not all chocolate and lazing about, however. She revisits in one nonfiction piece a look at her own years-long struggle with alcoholism, recounting it with honesty and a refreshing lack of pathos. Things fare less well on the fiction side, where the stories seem more like forced attempts to capture the self-deprecating good humor of her magazine pieces. This is especially true of “A Moment of Grace,” a story about a forlorn angel’s attempt to commit all the seven deadly sins. It’s all easy enough to read, even the one about the alien and English girl bopping about L.A., but can seem like sloppy seconds.

Sure to be snatched up by fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-078703-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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