A brilliant hodgepodge of pieces about the life and art of the 20th century's greatest composer, by his longtime associate and amanuensis. Caveat for Craft collectors: Some of this material is recycled (e.g., from Present Perspectives, 1984). If the purpose of writing about music and its creators is to send you scrambling to listen to the works themselves, this is an unqualified success. Craft, editor of three volumes of Stravinsky's correspondence and author of numerous writings about the master, has here collected 24 essays containing his ``remarks,'' musings, and reviews of works by and about the composer, approximately half of them previously unpublished. They range from an overview that focuses on Stravinsky's often abrasive personality and the perceived stylistic shifts in his music (``A Centenary View, Plus Ten'') to ``glimpses'' of his less-than-pretty private life (``Sufferings and Humiliations of Catherine Stravinsky'') to pieces focusing on individual compositions (``The Rite at Sixty-Five''; ``Svadebka: An Introduction''). These last constitute by far the best parts of this book. Four chapters devoted to the creation and performance of The Rite of Spring, an analysis of the origin and revisions of Histoire du Soldat, a discussion of the connection between Debussy and the Symphonies of Wind Instruments—all fascinate. Not that Craft can be read without irritation. His familiar insistence on the importance of his own role in Stravinsky's life (and vice versa) looks like narcissism writ large. Similarly, the amount of space devoted to the purely personal seems disproportionate. The longest essay deals with the litigation between Stravinsky's children and his second wife after his death: It's sad stuff, more appropriate to Knots Landing than to a knotty modern master, and not very enlightening about anything. Not for someone who wants linear biography. Probably not for first-time Stravinskians. But for those with an already established interest in the diverse outpourings of a genius, nearly indispensable. (Illustrations.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-08896-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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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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