ABROAD

BRITISH LITERARY TRAVELING BETWEEN THE WARS

"Before tourism there was travel, and before travel there was exploration." Fussell, who sounds in his wittier moments like S. J. Perelman turned professor, is too much the tenderfoot and ben vivant for exploration, and he heartily loathes tourism. But, ah, travel! In Fussell's idealistic, embittered view, travel is a supremely humanistic activity, and never more so than when the traveler is a gifted writer, conscious of the past and capable of translating the myths of heroic adventure and pastoral romance into terms of wagon-lits and steamships (not jet planes). Fussell identifies the Twenties and Thirties as the last great age of literary travel, and in this knowledgeable, elegant study he celebrates it and laments its passing. Taking up where The Great War and Modern Memory left off, Fussell chronicles the explosion of travel from Britain after the depressing confinement of WW I: D. H. Lawrence to Italy, Graham Greene to Africa, Peter Fleming to China and Brazil, Auden and Isherwood to America and elsewhere, Robert Byron to "Oxiana," Evelyn Waugh to Abyssinia, etc., etc. Fussell doesn't limit himself to spirited appreciations of their work. He also neatly illuminates the genre, connecting it to his authors' native eccentricity, individualism, and distrust of authority (he memorably defines the traveler as "a hypertropied freak of British empiricism"). Best of all perhaps, he puts his criticism in a colorful personal frame, by relating his own doomed comic-romantic attempts at travel in a world ruled by tourism. In this irascibly lyrical vein Fussell is as good as the people he writes about—which is very good indeed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1980

ISBN: 0195030680

Page Count: 229

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980

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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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