Any river-lover would envy Adams’s project, but following his route would surely be more satisfying than reading his work.




Impressionistic essays about the New River, its history, and the people who make their lives around its course.

Kentucky native and All Things Considered host Adams (Piano Lessons, 1996) is much enamored of the New River, a small waterway that—counterintuitively—flows north from North Carolina to West Virginia, winding through the territory of Adams’s personal history. With “a wish to understand more about this part of the country and [his] family’s past,” Adams sets out to row, bike, and drive the 350-mile length of the New, chronicling the communities and people he meets along the way. The characters on the water are memorable, ranging from Mary Draper Ingles (who in 1755 survived capture by the Shawnee to escape and walk all the way home from Ohio equipped only with a tomahawk and a couple of blankets) to a fellow who currently makes his home in a school bus that is perched on an enormous rock outcropping in the middle of the river. It is the landscape, however, that is the most compelling character, as Adams’s work is strongest when he focuses on his surroundings. In general, the essays are much like glimpses of the banks from the middle of a swift-flowing stream: a collection of impressions divorced from context with little to link them. Adams writes in very short snippets, confounding the reader’s sense of narrative and momentum. He may be aware of this himself: He assures the reader that “If you go, I promise you’ll find a much deeper story,” and includes latitude and longitude information at the head of each chapter in case one should choose to make the journey along the New.

Any river-lover would envy Adams’s project, but following his route would surely be more satisfying than reading his work.

Pub Date: April 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32010-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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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