BORDERLANDS

THE ULTIMATE EXPLORATION OF THE UNKNOWN

A teasing, mildly skeptical, occasionally infuriating farrago of bizarre phenomena that struggles to remain intelligent and high-minded as it deconstructs reports of UFO encounters, the Loch Ness monster, telephone calls from the dead, and “abominable swamp slobs.” “If there is an underlying oneness in all things,” claimed Charles Fort, an obscure Baltimore compiler of allegedly true, if inexplicable, occurrences, then we can learn just as much about the human condition from what doesn’t make sense as from what does. In this thick volume of “Forteana,” Dash, a University of London Ph.D. in naval history and researcher for the international journal of strange doings, Fortean Times, takes a phenomenological approach: It doesn’t matter if what has been customarily dismissed as hokum, superstition, or badly digested mutton is a hoax or delusion; what does the occurrence mean for the people who claim to have experienced it, for those who report it, and for those whose eager explanations disguise a more penetrating truth? Is an urge to cling to ancient folk beliefs, for example, animating an urge to see monsters in deep lakes? Why is it that the aliens in UFO encounters tend to resemble science fiction characters? Does a Barnumesque contempt for a gullible public inspire back-country hicks to make circles in wheat fields, or fake Bigfoot prints? Dash can be fascinating as he exposes respected scientists and literary figures—from Arthur Conan Doyle to the hapless meteorologist who believed crop circles were caused by tornados—who dream up “scientific” explanations for outright hoaxes, communications with the dead, and phenomena like ESP that defy laboratory duplication. He becomes annoying only when he (all too often) hams up his cogent analyses with trite Twilight Zone monologues that liken these experiences to a visit to a mythical borderland. A peckishly melodramatic reminder that the source of so much superstition, blissful ignorance, and bad science is an unwillingness to live with mystery.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-87951-724-7

Page Count: 520

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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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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