The great playwright exchanges letters with his favorite American stage director. In 1955 Alan Schneider was invited to direct the American production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. He went to London to meet the playwright beforehand, and a warm, productive relationship soon developed, ending only with Schneider’s accidental death in 1984. (He was fatally struck by a car while walking to a mailbox, intending to post a letter to Beckett.) Their correspondence—279 letters from Beckett, 209 from Schneider—is of partcular interest in matters of Beckett’s stagecraft and self-interpretation. Because of Beckett’s confidence in him, Schneider was privileged to premiere five of the Nobelist’s works in the US, including Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Endgame. The notoriously demanding playwright favored Schneider, as Maurice Harmon (Anglo-Irish Literature/ University Coll., Dublin) explains in his concisely excellent introduction, because Schneider “did not intrude upon the work but submitted himself attentively to it, discovering its imaginative inner life, most pleased in the end if his contribution to the play’s successful performance could be unnoticed.” Schneider honored Beckett’s intentions scrupulously. Consequently, Beckett is in his letters most forthcoming about his wishes and intentions for his plays. Scrupulous, too, is editor Harmon who supplies useful and thorough notes for each letter. Taken together, the Beckett-Schneider letters also offer a unique overview of Beckett’s stage work in the US. Apart from their detailed discussion of the plays that Beckett entrusted to Schneider, we are privy to their expert comments on the successes and failures of other Beckett productions here and abroad. The tone is warm and friendly throughout, yet the letters are curiously uninteresting in any regard except theater matters. A well-edited set of documents that will be uniquely invaluable to students of Beckett’s works and of the American theater. (21 line illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 1998

ISBN: 0-674-62522-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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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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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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