The best one-volume history yet on the subject for musicians and enthusiasts, professional or amateur.




A superb, all-encompassing survey of music in America.

The US has the most diverse and complex musical culture in the world, mostly because all the rest of the world is its source. Over the last 150 years in particular, countless varieties of music have been brought here by immigrants and have made their way into the mainstream, often combining with other varieties and creating a new art form. Crawford (Music/Univ. of Michigan) has assembled an extremely impressive single-volume reference that tells this history in a most readable and pleasurable way. His approach is similar to that of Arthur Loesser in his classic Men, Women and Pianos: Crawford tells the story of American music from the larger point of view of American history. He maintains a scrupulous objectivity and avoids the problem endemic to other works of this sort, namely, the application of 20th-century mores to an earlier culture. Overall, his breadth of knowledge is astonishing. He is facile in every genre, whether it is 17th-century New England psalmody, 19th-century musical theater, 1950s rhythm-and-blues, the British invasion, etc. Because his expertise and interest are so broad, his work lacks the “us vs. them” quality found in musical surveys by more parochial scholars. When he delves into controversial subjects (e.g., “performance art”), he treads the careful path, presenting both sides. When venturing an opinion, he is considerate of the opposing view. One of his best chapters concerns what he refers to as “the Gap,” the separation of contemporary composers from their audiences. While fair-minded as always, he presents a damning picture of the “university music school composer” whose near-complete isolation from the concert-going public results in music that is often unplayable. The prose is invariably engrossing, if not scintillating, and the only complaint some readers may have is over the fairly scanty consideration of rap and hip-hop, which seems appended. To others, of course, that brief treatment may be an advantage.

The best one-volume history yet on the subject for musicians and enthusiasts, professional or amateur.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-393-04810-1

Page Count: 923

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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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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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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