Meticulous history illuminated and animated by personal passion, carried aloft by volant prose.

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FALLING UPWARDS

HOW WE TOOK TO THE AIR

The biographer of two great Romantics (Shelley and Coleridge) relates yet another romantic tale—the story of the human passion to fly up, up and away in a beautiful balloon.

Holmes (The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science, 2009, etc.) begins with a memory—a flying dream from childhood—mentions Daedalus and Icarus, some balloons in literature, films and popular culture, and then lifts off into another of his delightfully soaring histories. He notes that the French were the first to use balloons for military purposes (reconnaissance), then tells us about some of the most notable balloon pioneers, including André-Jacques Garnerin, who also pioneered parachutes. Holmes focuses on the accomplishments (and failures) of a number of other principals, including Charles Green (many of his flights lifted off from Vauxhall Gardens), Henry Mayhew, Eugène Godard, John Wise, James Glaisher, Camille Flammarion, Gaston Tissandier and Salomon Andrée, whose attempt to reach the North Pole in 1897 ended in death for all aboard his vessel. Holmes reminds us of ballooning in the fictions of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, Mark Twain (whose Tom Sawyer Abroad reunited the Huck-Jim-Tom trio for a flight across the Atlantic) and others. He tells, as well, about spectacular failures—crashes, fatal and otherwise. His two most gripping segments are the airlift from Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)—dozens of flights took mail and other dispatches out of the city during the siege—and the assault on the North Pole. One great irony regarding the latter: The aeronauts, on the ground after the balloon could no longer fly, shot and ate polar bears; later, the bears ate them.

Meticulous history illuminated and animated by personal passion, carried aloft by volant prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-37966-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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