A vivid war story about a soldier and his comrades that delivers a satisfying read.

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Brothers, All

A debut, memoir-based novel chronicles the experiences of a platoon in the Vietnam War. 

Jones served in Vietnam in 1966-67 with the 173rd Airborne. He wasn’t drafted; he enlisted—at age 19—because he thought it was the right thing to do. In this book, he is James Fowlkes (“Prof”), the narrator. Others in his platoon—all nicknames, of course—include Dragline, Arkansas, Vocab, Deetroit, Preacher Will, Pineapple, Nasty, and Hammerhead. Three of them will not make it home alive. So this is mostly a story of real grunts out on patrol, and, in frequent battles, they are one for all and all for one, as the title implies. White guys, black guys, and an Asian guy. Nasty is the one in the platoon that the rest loathe, but they would save even him in a pinch. (One they would not rescue, and that they come close to killing, is Lt. Taylor, who puts them at risk time and again to advance his career; he remains loathsome.) Ultimately, Fowlkes survives, and returns home to Texas to a hero’s welcome. But flash-forward a half-century and he is undergoing treatment for a lung cancer that is trying to kill him. Is it Agent Orange? Will Vietnam finally claim him? Except for short looks at war protestors in San Francisco, this book focuses almost exclusively on Fowlkes’ time in Vietnam and what it is like to be on patrol—filthy, tired, scared—for days at a time. And what it is like to lose guys that a soldier has come to love, the double-edged sword of bonding. At one point, Fowlkes says that he was “covered in blood, none of it mine, but then again, all of it was mine.” The writing is straightforward but a reader comes to like and respect this kid from Texas, now a man. This work could almost be a template for all the books that have come out of the Vietnam War. No new ground is broken, but all the standard ingredients are here. The novel comes with a short glossary of the terms that Fowlkes or any other grunt would and does use.

A vivid war story about a soldier and his comrades that delivers a satisfying read.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62880-089-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2016

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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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