A brutally honest, engaging account that’s revealing, disturbing, and quite poignant.

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THE LAST RIDE IN TO READVILLE

In his debut memoir, a writer takes readers on a trip through his family’s troubled past, determined to find closure and forgive his dysfunctional parents for the hurt inflicted on him and his siblings.

Boudreau was born in 1956 in Boston, the third of eight kids, all of whom still bear psychological scars from a poverty-stricken, abusive childhood. He begins his story near the end. He and his wife were buying food and supplies for his 81-year old, twice widowed mother, Gert. By this time, only Boudreau and two of his siblings would have anything to do with “Ma.” He entered Gert’s house in Readville (a neighborhood in Boston) and painful, angry memories of a childhood marked by instability and neglect came flooding back: “By the time I reached my eighteenth birthday and enlisted in the air force, we’d easily moved more than seventy-five times,” always leaving in their wake a stack of unpaid bills. The visit serves as a fulcrum for Boudreau’s narrative, which vacillates between past and present as he reviews his life and family relationships. According to the author, his father, George, was “unpredictable, violent, and abusive” while his mother always assumed a posture of helplessness, standing by passively while her husband inflicted his beatings on one child or another. She attempted “to infect us all with her neuroses,” the author recalls. At 15, after a verbal and physical confrontation with his father, Boudreau permanently left home, moving into a Boston commune to live with his older sister, Diane. Plenty of justifiable rage flows from these pages, although it is packaged in articulate prose and wrapped in psychological theory. Some passages describing the author’s parents are very personal and a bit uncomfortable to read. Of his father, he writes: “He always took his full upper and lower dentures out the minute he came home…. He’d wrap them in the snot-filled handkerchief he always kept stuffed in his back pocket.” In this candid and moving book, readers will feel the constant battle between Boudreau’s training in community social psychology and his ever-present baggage of having been raised by emotionally damaged parents.

A brutally honest, engaging account that’s revealing, disturbing, and quite poignant.

Pub Date: March 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4834-9888-1

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2019

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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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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