Really, it wasn't that simple, though the book is often that awkward.



A short book that adds little to the exhaustive analyses of the band, this exists for two reasons: first, to share a fan’s passion for the music; second, because publication coincides with “the 50th anniversary of the release of their first album, 'Please Please Me.' "

Charles is most prolific as a mystery writer (The Dust of Death, 2007, etc.), but he has also worked as a music promoter. He offers a third reason for the book: “to try and shed some light on the reasons for their incredible success.” And so he does: “The answer is simple. They wrote and recorded great songs." Single by single, album by album, Charles gushes: “To many people—even today—‘She Loves You’—is The Beatles at their fab mop-top best;" “ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ is another excellent catchy Beatle classic"; “ 'I Should Have Known Better'...sounds as brilliant today as the day it was recorded"; “ ‘Rubber Soul’ is still, to me, a flawless gem. . .purely and simply, ‘Rubber Soul’ is a beautiful album; I still enjoy it as much today as I did the day it was released”; “listening to ‘Rubber Soul, as in fact I do while writing this, it sounds like a masterly piece of work, with all the songs working together perfectly, each one in its right place.” The interjection of first-person narrative adds nothing to the appreciation, which is further undermined by the author’s propensity for exclamation points (“The early seeds of Beatlemania were being sown!”). Inevitably, all things must pass, and the author gives two explanations for the band’s breakup: “One, [manager] Brian Epstein died and, two, John Lennon met the person, Yoko Ono, for whom opportunism was an art form....Everywhere John went, Yoko went; it was really as simple and as awkward as that.”

Really, it wasn't that simple, though the book is often that awkward.

Pub Date: May 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0802313560

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Dufour

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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