A vivid, thoughtful, entertaining take on Indian society and religion.

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INDIA

IN SEARCH OF THE FOURTH VEDA

An American sojourner seeks to unlock the riddles of India by investigating its mystical sciences in this scintillating memoir.

In 1994, 50 years old and newly divorced, Gunderson traveled to the Indian city of Coimbatore to teach English and do anthropological research. There, she experienced both delight at the country’s vibrant culture and challenges to her Western sensibilities. Hygienic standards—garbage piled in the streets for animals to eat, cockroaches in hospitals—unsettled her. Pervasive sexism rankled: She was refused service at hotels and restaurants because a woman alone was considered a prostitute, and when she went horseback riding, irate men tried to unseat her. As a window into the Indian mindset, Gunderson began studying the fourth Veda, an ancient primer on traditional practices—astrology, palm reading, numerology, herbal medicine—that influence much of Indian life. (Vedic astrology, she notes, can specify that a man “will suffer appendicitis in the 36th year of his life” and “be accused of killing a cow”; many arranged marriages are aborted when the couple’s horoscopes prove incompatible.) Gunderson’s consultations mix the uncanny with the comic. For example, two astrologers divine that she is divorced and blame bad karma from her past lives but can’t agree on whether she will die at age 67 or 75. Written in rich, sensual prose—“fissures in the sidewalks lead to open sewers, odor balanced by mounds of jasmine flowers in the street strung like corn to wear in the hair”—Gunderson’s memoir portrays the author as both ravished and appalled by the splendor and squalor of India. But she doesn’t exoticize the place; she grounds her openness with a wry skepticism and an analytic eye that susses out social nuances and draws rounded, complex character studies of people she encounters. The result is a fine, evocative rendering of the clash of India’s grungiest material realities and its most rarefied spiritual aspirations.

A vivid, thoughtful, entertaining take on Indian society and religion.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-48110-4

Page Count: 237

Publisher: Onesimus Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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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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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