Intellectual fodder for like-minded conservatives.




Devens, in his debut, holds forth on a broad selection of societal ills, inconveniences, inequities and inanities.

This wide-ranging, ambitious book covers a lot of ground, tackling everything from self-righteous religion to syrupy movie sound tracks. The author confidently wades into such thorny issues as criminality, the death penalty, marriage, obscenity and the solicitation of prostitutes. The book treats each polemic pit stop with an air of utmost sobriety and sophisticated reason, even when the arguments come off as rather strident. For example, the author recalls an incident in which he witnessed a disturbed teen masturbate in front of a gorgeous woman on a Brooklyn sidewalk, and he laments that he was not a “dictator” at the time, capable of having the pitiful offender “executed.” There’s little hint of Jonathan Swift when the author advocates cannibalizing convicted murderers: “By devouring the remains of a monster, [victims’ loved ones] can more easily achieve closure...especially when they later go to the toilet to purge the aftermath of the meal from their bodies.” The subjects of racism, torture, performance-enhancing drugs and vigilantism are afforded similar consideration, while the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian dispute is quickly discarded as an example of an unsolvable issue. Devens also enthusiastically defends American troops’ urinating on corpses, and the husbands of ugly women having sex outside of marriage. When batters nail headhunting pitchers in the noggin with line drives, he calls it “poetic justice.” However, Devens sometimes directs arguments at easy targets, such as traffic enforcement agents (or, as the author calls them, “meter maids”); after all, no one enjoys getting a ticket.

Intellectual fodder for like-minded conservatives. 

Pub Date: May 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1432798802

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Outskirts Press Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2013

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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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