A solid reference for punk scholars, though disappointing for the True Believers.




How punk went pop.

Music journalist Diehl (Rolling Stone; the New York Times) deftly analyzes the ideologically fraught, stylistically Balkanized state of contemporary punk rock. Despite the author’s touching attempt to make an argument for the political and cultural legitimacy of the music as it is played today, the journey from the Sex Pistols and the Clash to Good Charlotte and Blink 182 is an inescapably depressing one. His case rests largely on Green Day’s widely lauded 2004 album American Idiot, and on the reckless charisma of Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle—pretty weak stuff. In fact, Diehl’s fixation on Dalle (a sort of Australian Courtney Love) threatens to overwhelm the narrative and turn it into a mash note—the Distillers are just not significant enough to warrant the space granted them here. Still, there is a bit of value, including cogent analysis of the various “scenes” that have formed in punk’s second and third waves (hardcore, straight-edge, emo, etc.); copious interview material from the major players; and a healthy ironic appreciation of the ways in which punk rock, designed to be culturally indigestible outrage, has been smoothly commodified and turned into a kind of instant identity kit for disaffected suburban kids, as hidebound and conformist as the social order Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer strove to overthrow. There is an informative section on the history of the annual punk-themed Warped tour—a dazzlingly effective vehicle for spreading the gospel—and Diehl has intelligent things to say about the subjects of political activism and gender politics as they relate to modern punk. And yet, the bland mall-friendly likes of bands like Yellowcard and Simple Plan beg the question: Does contemporary punk deserve a book-length analysis? One comes away from Diehl’s treatment acutely missing the Ramones.

A solid reference for punk scholars, though disappointing for the True Believers.

Pub Date: April 17, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-33781-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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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