IN THE ARMS OF OTHERS

A CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE RIGHT-TO-DIE IN AMERICA

A well-crafted history weaving together the complex legal, moral, political, psychological, and social issues surrounding the right-to-die movement in the US. Filene (author of Him/Her/Self, 1975, and the novel Home and Away, 1992), a professor of history at the University of North Carolina, focuses on the Karen Ann Quinlan case, which he calls an “earthquake” that “reshaped the cultural landscape.” He places this pivotal event in historical context, tracing the evolution of the concept of euthanasia from the 19th-century idea of the easy, natural death to that of mercy killing by a physician, and, in the midst of growing concern about medical technology’s ability to prolong the dying process, the emergence of a new concept, the right to die. Filene describes the right-to-die movement as a river fed by two dynamic social forces of the 1960s, the therapeutic human-potential movement and the equal-rights movement, and he shows how the notion of medical civil rights has fared in hospitals, courts, and legislatures in the last two decades. He analyzes the shifting attitudes toward assisted suicide and documents the advent of and growing interest in living wills, devices whose shortcomings he is careful to point out. Death, he notes, must be viewed in a cultural context, and he offers two contrasting ones: Bali, where the death of an individual is celebrated by the whole community, and the Netherlands, where a consensus has been reached that the individual has the right to a doctor’s help in dying. As a society, Filene says, we are moving toward acceptance of physician-assisted suicide, but death with dignity will remain elusive until health care is available for all and the comfort care of hospices is widespread—and until we understand that our much-valued autonomy depends on relatedness to others. Thoughtful study that brings needed clarity and perspective to a serious and controversial issue. (b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 5, 1998

ISBN: 1-56663-188-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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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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