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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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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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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