Fascinating footage of the mind and heart of an American original. (48 b&w illustrations)

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CASSAVETES ON CASSAVETES

Film historian Carney (Film and American Studies/Boston Univ.) explores the cinematic philosophy and practices of maverick actor and director John Cassavetes (1929–89).

Carney did a prodigious amount of research to prepare this thorough, admiring, and even affectionate examination of Cassavetes’s films. He interviewed Cassavetes many times, spoke with virtually everyone who had ever worked with him, viewed every inch of relevant footage he could acquire, studied every interview ever granted by the loquacious filmmaker, and read the multiple versions of Cassavetes’s screenplays. A compulsive reviser, Cassavetes does not deserve, in the author’s view, his reputation as a director of improvised productions. Instead, he was a ferocious, tireless worker, a man who would do just about anything to complete a film (or find a booking for it), a director who would manipulate cast and crew to achieve an effect he felt he could achieve no other way. Carney is less interested in the ordinary biographical facts of Cassavetes’s life than he is in his artistic temperament and credo, and so the births of his children and other milepost moments do not rate much attention. An exception is his tempestuous relationship with his wife, actress Gena Rowlands, who earned an Academy Award nomination in what is probably Cassavetes’s best-known film, A Woman Under the Influence. In most cases, Carney devotes an entire chapter to each film, beginning with Shadows (screened in 1958) and ending with Love-Streams (1984). The author’s technique is to let Cassavetes speak for himself whenever possible, so the text is largely an anthology of the filmmaker’s published and previously unpublished comments on his life and work, intercut with Carney’s transitions, explanations, and revisions. (In interviews, as Carney shows repeatedly, Cassavetes often considered the truth a boring companion who ought to remain silent.) Oddly, although the volume displays an indefatigable scholarship, it lacks some of the scholarly apparatus that would make it more useful for subsequent students and scholars—e.g., endnotes and an index.

Fascinating footage of the mind and heart of an American original. (48 b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-571-20157-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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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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