KINGS OF THE HILL

AN IRREVERANT LOOK AT THE MEN ON THE MOUND

Fast-ball maestro Ryan, who tossed a gopher ball with his autobiography, Throwing Heat (1988), rockets one down the center of the plate in this zippy review of baseball pitchers and their foibles. Ryan entered the major leagues as a New York Met, and he dotes on memories of that team's early years as ``the strangest collection of athletes you can imagine.'' Although some pitchers he discusses (e.g., Warren Spahn) had careers that stretch back to baseball's Pleistocene Age, Ryan, writing with Herskowitz (coauthor, Cosell, etc.), sticks mostly to hurlers of his own era— a massive chunk of baseball history in itself: Ryan, 45, is about to begin his 25th year as a major-leaguer. He likes to rank and categorize his peers: Best southpaw? Sandy Koufax (``like watching a line of poetry come to life''). Pitcher with the nastiest curveball? Koufax again. Luckiest pitcher? Lew Burdette, who in 1957 won 21 games despite an astronomical E.R.A. Best reliever? Rollie Fingers. Strangely, despite his famed equilibrium, Ryan seems fond of pitchers whom he calls ``obsessed'': Jim Palmer, who attempted a comeback after being elected to the Hall of Fame; recluse Steve Carlton (``the Howard Hughes of baseball''); shipwrecks like 31-game winner and convicted felon Denny McLain. But Ryan dislikes bullies, and he argues fiercely and intelligently for good manners on and off the field. He backs this up by speaking well of just about everyone, picking a quip, quote, or quirk that quick-sketches the pitcher to perfection (Koufax became great only when his hair grayed and he realized that it was ``a signal to get busy''; as a child, McLain worked as a numbers-runner). Sometimes the author startles with the literary equivalent of a Ryan fastball: ``Poor timing: Don Larsen's wife filed for divorce on the day he pitched his perfect game in the World Series.'' A power performance from the greatest power pitcher ever. (Thirty-five b&w photos.)

Pub Date: May 6, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-018330-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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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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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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