Weekend warriors who crave physical challenges can use Pyle’s colorful account to kick-start their own adventures.


Sacred Mountains of China


Photographer and filmmaker Pyle (The India Ride, 2014, etc.) returns with a fast-paced travel memoir about four months that changed his life.

A Canadian living in Shanghai, Pyle writes that his hikes on four sacred western Chinese mountains—Minya Konka, Amne Machin, Mount Kailash, and Kawa Karpo—didn’t lead to his spiritual epiphany or turn him into a “born-again, tree-hugging environmentalist.” Instead, he says, he became a better person due to the physical and mental challenges he overcame while hiking and camping in extreme weather conditions. In July 2013, he set off—with guides, donkeys, a cook, plenty of supplies, and a cameraman for documentary filming—to begin four separate journeys and walk more than 500 kilometers in majestic landscapes. Pyle’s spirited account often describes the local people, such as some older pilgrims who devoutly performed repeated prostrations around Amne Machin. Serious hikers will find helpful cultural information in Pyle’s friendly, first-person narrative; e.g., visitors should circumambulate the mountains because climbing straight to the top is considered sacrilegious. But some readers may be shocked by the high cost (one part of Pyle’s trip to Mount Kailash was about $6,300). Informative notes—descriptions of “trekkers’ feet” and “altitude sickness”—are highlighted in boxes throughout the text. Each mountain hike begins with a small map and ends with the author’s personal travel details (the best months to walk each trail, for example). The bulk of the memoir, however, recounts Pyle’s many difficulties due to changing environments—bitter cold that instantly froze water he was pouring into his oatmeal. The language is often vivid: “Dotted along the sides of the valley above us were several of the white tents that are home to semi-nomadic Tibetan yak herders who take their yaks up to the plateaus in the summer to feed on the lush grass.” Forty-eight gorgeous but disappointingly small color photographs (approximately 4.5 inches by 3 inches) are included. 

Weekend warriors who crave physical challenges can use Pyle’s colorful account to kick-start their own adventures. 

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9928644-1-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Ryan Pyle Productions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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