Egregiously dull.

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ROCK AND ROLL ARCHAEOLOGIST

HOW I CHASED DOWN KURT’S STRATOCASTER, THE “LAYLA” GUITAR, AND JANIS’S BOA

A Seattle music fan is transformed from mere collector to museum curator.

There was a time not so long ago when collecting pop culture artifacts was a much less crowded field, according to music historian Blecha (Taboo Tunes, 2004). Then eBay came along and changed everything. Blecha doesn’t exactly resent this change, saying “you gotta go where the action is,” but Internet rarity-hunting nevertheless does come off as monumentally less interesting than combing through garage sales and dank basements for that obscure find. More of such stories, in fact, could have helped make this a significantly better read. The author documents his life as an itinerant musician who ended up working in myriad record stores in the Seattle area, jobs that helped further his sideline gig as collector of rock arcana, especially those relics relating to obscure and forgotten local bands and labels. Blecha is at his best when talking about all that was doomed to history’s dustbin, whether it’s 1920s-era jazz recordings or the seemingly innumerable garage bands who thrashed out everything from psychedelia to surf rock, punk and grunge. It’s unfortunate, then, that what he had in mind here is not so much a study of the art and mania of collecting but rather a simplistic account of his work in the 1990s as senior curator of the Experience Music Project, the brainchild of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, who wanted a different sort of rock museum. Blecha may well have an eye for the rare and fascinating artifact, but he hardly has the writer’s voice to describe what makes it so rare and fascinating.

Egregiously dull.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2005

ISBN: 1-57061-443-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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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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