A colorful, sometimes-coarse remembrance of addiction and recovery.

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HELTER SHELTER

A LUNATIC SEARCHING FOR ASYLUM

In this memoir, Smart (Hell Camp, 2013) discusses working at a shelter for troubled teens while also dealing with personal troubles of her own.

For 12 years, the South African author has worked as a supervisor at a county youth shelter in Southern California, taking care of teens who are feuding with their parents or have nowhere else to go. The pay is poor and the work is grueling, she writes, as she deals with the myriad physical, mental, and emotional issues that afflict her wards. Smart has remained there, year in and year out, despite—or perhaps because of—the tremendous problems in her personal life, recounted here: her tumultuous relationship with her teenage daughter; her frustrated dream of being a singer; her on-again, off-again affair with an emotionally troubled member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and, most of all, her nearly crippling drinking problem: “I hate my life,” she once thought, after an out-of-control night. “I can’t function anymore….It’s not that I want to kill myself, it’s just that I no longer want to be alive.” As the author tried to help her teens figure out how to exist in the world, she had to figure out how to do so herself. Smart’s prose is energetic and candid throughout this book. It’s tinged with indelicate humor that some readers may occasionally find offensive, though. However, she’s always willing to call out what she sees as right or wrong in her line of work: “there are kids who benefit from Seroquel, or similar drugs, but I’d wager that a healthy diet and some proper parenting might do the trick, too….Seroquel is akin to a whack on the head with a sledgehammer.” Overall, this is a memoir that’s confessional but never myopic—one that shows how easily angels and demons can reside, side by side, inside us all.

A colorful, sometimes-coarse remembrance of addiction and recovery.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9856166-2-5

Page Count: 225

Publisher: iMay Productions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

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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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