PRACTICES OF FREEDOM

SELECTED WRITINGS ON HIV/AIDS

Thoughtful, though too often meandering and dry, meditations on the cultural and political response to HIV/AIDS in the US and Great Britain. Watney (Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS, and the Media, not reviewed) is an experienced professional in the field of HIV education and has written a monthly column on HIV/AIDS for London's Gay Times; this volume collects pieces written between 1986 and 1992. Watney critiques moralistic, homophobic responses to the epidemic, from victim-blaming to failure to acknowledge the disproportionate effect of the disease on gay men (in both the UK and the US) to unrealistic and unhelpful prescriptions of abstinence or monogamy. He argues that HIV/AIDS education must focus on ``safe sex'' and must embrace gay pride, sexual desire, and community. Watney has done academic work in cultural theory, which usefully informs his analyses of media constructions of the epidemic, especially his article on the racist implications of the press's obsession with the non-Western origins of AIDS. Unfortunately, some of his writing is weighed down by a dense, occasionally almost impenetrable writing style; his shorter pieces, most of which were first published in nonacademic gay publications, are much more readable. Watney can also be far-fetched in his theoretical flights, musing at one point that, for straight people, HIV implies a ``physical relationship with the bodies of gay men or people of color. Dread of HIV infection thus speaks an excessive fear of transgressing profound social and psychic boundaries that evidently stabilize...heterosexual identity''—hardly the soundest explanation for collective terror of a fatal disease for which there is still no known cure. Some worthy analysis, but far more jargon-ridden than the complexity of Watney's ideas merits.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8223-1553-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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