A highly readable family story that brims with heart and optimism.




A debut multigenerational memoir focuses on the strong women in the author’s family tree.

In this book, Stradling mingles the standout stories from her own genealogical past with the spiritual lessons exemplified by those tales. Her narrative spans five generations of her family's history, and she delves deeply into as many of the particulars as she can uncover from each era. She tells the stories of her great-grandmother Mackie, her grandmother Minnie, and her mother, Gail, generously mixed with echoes and reflections on her own contemporary life. Readers will likely be struck immediately by her decision to employ a number of novelistic devices, such as dramatic pacing, crosscutting between narrative strands, and reconstituted dialogue. She uses all of these techniques with a very skilled and pleasingly light hand—the result is the kind of reconstructed family history every author strives for but rarely achieves. Readers follow these women as they deal with the heartbreak of losing loved ones, a kind of tragedy that strikes Mackie often and quite dramatically, which helps to make her the book’s most memorable character. “People were instinctively drawn to her,” readers are told. “She was charismatic and empathic.” Stradling also chronicles the challenges of these women’s daily lives and careers, particularly in the case of Minnie, who earned her master’s degree from the University of Washington in 1936, became a Shakespeare scholar, and had a strong effect on the education world of her day. The author has deeply researched her subjects and steeps her account in letter and diary extracts, all assembled and studied with obvious care. Small recurring details—Gail’s love of the written word, for instance, or the comfort Mackie drew from the teachings of Christian Science—are thus brought wonderfully to life. And the work’s underlying spiritual message—“Faith and prayer are more than a few words”—is rendered all the more clearly for not being stridently presented.

A highly readable family story that brims with heart and optimism.

Pub Date: April 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62747-037-7

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Dharma Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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