The ongoing drama of Rehak’s picky-eater son offers anecdotal entertainment, but the stakes are too insubstantial to qualify...

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EATING FOR BEGINNERS

AN EDUCATION IN THE PLEASURES OF FOOD FROM CHEFS, FARMERS, AND ONE PICKY KID

A sanguine account of the year Rehak (Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, 2005) spent immersed in local food production.

To give herself a crash-course culinary education in what to feed her one-year-old son, Jules, the author volunteered to work in the kitchen of a small Brooklyn restaurant, “applewood.” She wanted to think more about the food she ate but felt overwhelmed by the amount of information in books, newspapers and foodie magazines. Her yearlong endeavors to form her own ideas on the subject include picking vegetables at an upstate farm, making cheese, packing and delivering produce in the middle of the night, milking goats and sea-fishing. The bulk of the narrative unfolds at applewood during ten-hour shifts spent cooking, chopping, flipping, prepping, baking and studying the restaurant’s two owners, David and Laura Shea. Rehak’s conclusions—that “we should eat as locally as possible, we should support small farms”—are ones she grasped at the project’s outset, but she hadn’t understood the reasons why these truths are so important. Included in the book are recipes, and she quotes liberally from authors as varied as Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson and James Joyce. Rehak doesn’t lack inspiration, and her subject is laudable. However, with so many books covering the same topic, she could use a more dynamic angle, opting to focus more on the personal side of her story. She spends countless hours with people in the food business, affirming the argument for supporting local and organic farmers and butchers, but not a single voice in these pages articulates a different view. Consequently, readers are taught the same lesson in each chapter, from cheese to fish to desserts.

The ongoing drama of Rehak’s picky-eater son offers anecdotal entertainment, but the stakes are too insubstantial to qualify as gripping, no matter how enthusiastic the author.

Pub Date: July 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-15-101437-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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