A solidly written, always interesting book of travel by a master explorer. Ridgeway (The Last Step, 1980), who is perhaps best known as a mountaineer and mountaineering journalist, confesses at the opening of his new book that he would gladly trade in, if need be, all his ascents for the chance to take more long walks across open country—plains, savannas, deserts. He recently decided to indulge this passion by making a trek across the grasslands of East Africa, wishing, as he writes, —to see what it would be like to walk for an extended period in the close company of potentially dangerous mammals.— (Among the mammals that figure in his narrative are lions, leopards, elephants, and rhinos, all of which, made cranky by an intense drought, give him a good scare or two.) Starting with an ascent, naturally, of Kilimanjaro, Ridgeway takes in a broad sweep of country, writing about it with keen awareness and undisguised affection. He paints colorful scenes in vivid (and occasionally vulgar) language, and those scenes effectively convey the difficulty of his journey without descending into the macho bravado so common to adventure-travel writing: —We weave through the dun-colored bush like puff adders,— he writes in a typical passage, —threading through one opening, then, without thinking, making for the next hole, lifting delicately a branch lined with two-inch thorns and easing it back so it doesn—t slap and puncture the person behind.— Writers who travel in the shadow of Kilimanjaro necessarily travel in the shadow of Ernest Hemingway, the master of that bravado; Ridgeway wisely uses Hemingway and other writers—Isak Dinesen and Peter Beard among them—as foils, measuring what they had to say against his own experiences, gently correcting and augmenting their words. Those experiences inform an entertaining and literate memoir of backcountry adventure.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-5289-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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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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