A welcoming guide to a dreaded and morbid subject—conversing with loved ones about death.




A journalist/author and an Episcopal priest reveal how to talk about the intricacies of death with family and friends.

This small book by Crampton (Manners! I Know, Right?, 2017, etc.) and debut author Jones makes a big contribution to the ever growing literature about death and dying. Far from being a lugubrious and solemn read, the guide offers a lot of substance in a warm and approachable fashion. It is aimed at those who may want to talk with family and friends about their deaths and what they want from the experience but who may shy away from this difficult topic that most people scrupulously prefer to avoid. While not everyone will share the Episcopalian context that interlaces the content with inclusions from the Book of Common Prayer, the advice and research the authors provide prove insightful, thorough, and, well, fun. The authors do mention briefly other faith traditions, but the writers stress the Christian context. Some of the tips are surprising. “It may seem peculiar to write your own obituary,” the authors say about one of the exercises discussed in the book, “even to noodle around with a few words mostly for amusement.” The authors have a serious purpose, though—relieve the family of the burden of writing an obit during the stressful funeral time. The manual’s useful topics include how to deal with reluctant or resistant family members; how to appoint a health care representative; living wills; advance directives; where and how to retain all-important paperwork for family members; funeral planning; and the advent of green funerals. The authors write about these and many other not-so-obvious aspects of death planning with a thoroughness belied by the brief length of this book, which also features a selected, annotated bibliography as well as a helpful topical index. The authors are organization freaks, and they bring their obsession for order to this presentation that offers readers a challenge to engage in planning for life’s end instead of just avoiding the inevitable.

A welcoming guide to a dreaded and morbid subject—conversing with loved ones about death.

Pub Date: March 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4834-9450-0

Page Count: 86

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2019

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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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