For the academic shopaholic.




A frequently muddled, occasionally intriguing exploration of shoppers and shops from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

Bowlby (English, French, and American Studies/Univ. of York) roams the aisles of literature (Émile Zola, Simone de Beauvoir, John Ruskin, Allen Ginsberg), trade magazines (Shelf Appeal, Modern Packaging, Progressive Grocer) and cultural treatises (Hannah Arendt, Ernest Dichter, Vance Packard) to pluck items for her cart of observations on the progress of the modern shopper from sharp and thrifty homemaker to lame-brained housewife to educated, sophisticated consumer. Along the way, she examines the esthetics of display, innovations in packaging, and the education of children (via comic strips) on the travail of shopping with mother on sale day. The author traces changing perceptions of women as shoppers, noting one 1940s tract that ascribed the success or failure of England’s economy to their purchasing choices. Supermarkets, which first appeared in Long Island and New Jersey, transformed buying habits and attitudes, Bowlby finds, and brought more men into the shopping milieu as well. Despite trapping consumers within four walls, however, supermarkets offered no more information to frustrated students of shopping than the old-fashioned street of specialty stores. Even though marketing experts with questionnaires in hand shadow shoppers in the supermarket and pigeonhole them by age, occupation, gender, class, and race, their habits and motivations remain an “insoluble mystery.” An intriguing, if rather befuddling chapter examines the supermarket in literature, from Coleridge to Joanna Trollope and Don DeLillo, as well as the literature in supermarkets, from tabloids to package labels. Even kleptomania is evaluated as a shopping phenomenon. Bowlby concludes with a look at the shopper as computer (constantly processing information) and the computer as shopping complex, via the Web. Her incoherent narrative contains some interesting cultural, literary, and historical observations, but they’re mixed in with lengthy and seemingly pointless digressions on shopping trivia.

For the academic shopaholic.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-231-12274-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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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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