Readers may find a nibble of food for thought but will need to look elsewhere for the full meal.


My Best-Friend Denial


Ricci shares his thoughts on the perils of corrupt government control in his debut nonfiction work.

From the start, Ricci stands firmly by his beliefs and bluntly states his perspective that the world is being “led to the slaughter by its government.” Each chapter touches on some element of this threat. He opens with a discussion on the link between Big Oil and the government, then moves into an argument against public instruction on evolution and the manner in which religious belief has been curtailed in the public realm. Other topics he elaborates on include government debt, private debt, federal financial regulations and government handouts. Each chapter tackles a different topic, but each claim supports his overall statement concerning the hazards of government control. Ricci organizes his thoughts in a clean manner and manages to steer clear of any distracting rabbit trails. Moreover, he offers intriguing viewpoints and clearly holds strong convictions about these views. While the honesty and dedication are admirable, he doesn’t lead readers through his thought process in an adequately convincing way. Occasionally, there’s a snippet of research: For instance, in his evolution chapter, he mentions a speech delivered by Dr. Colen Patterson, a senior paleontologist for the British Museum of Natural History, in which Patterson challenged experts on evolution to tell him one thing they knew to be true about it. There are too many instances, however, where Ricci jumps straight from Point A to Point B without showing readers how he got there. In one chapter, he states, “There is coming a day when you will be persecuted and prosecuted for simply endorsing the idea that God created the world and that the government is wrong”—an unsupported statement that seems alarmist instead of insightful. Readers who disagree or are unsure may find the lack of background detail off-putting. As it stands, the book is better suited for readers who already agree with the author than those who need convincing.

Readers may find a nibble of food for thought but will need to look elsewhere for the full meal.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493642830

Page Count: 86

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

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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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