Lit throughout by the bright star of wonder.

READ REVIEW

A SLIP OF THE KEYBOARD

COLLECTED NONFICTION

The celebrated creator of the Discworld series of fantasy novels offers an eclectic collection of pieces and speeches from as early as the 1970s.

Pratchett (The Long Mars, 2014, etc.), who has Alzheimer’s disease, writes often about his enemy-illness in this thematic collection. The author “went public” with his illness at the time of his diagnosis and has proved a worthy adversary of the illness and advocate for increased medical research. Throughout this inimitable collection, a number of traits and themes emerge. His biting—often self-deprecating—wit is evident on nearly every page, as is his wonder at being the literary celebrity that he is. He most assuredly realizes and is profoundly grateful for his stellar fortune, and he defends his genre both with humor and with passion (he believes that most fiction is fantasy) and repeatedly credits his predecessors and literary mentors, especially Tolkien, whose Lord of the Rings, he tells us, he used to reread every summer. Pratchett writes about his own religious beliefs—or, rather, lack of them. “I don’t think I’ve found God,” he wrote in 2008, “but I may have seen where gods come from.” He also rails against aspects of society he finds repellant; number crunchers and warmongers come in for some special disdain. The author has keen thoughts about education, as well, arguing that we should first erect a library and then build a school around it, and he blasts those who ignore the health of the environment. There is some repetition—not unexpected in a collection ranging over several decades. He writes continually about his affection for The Wind in the Willows, a book that captured and changed him in boyhood. He offers some advice for would-be fantasy writers (“You need to know how your world works”) and reminds us that at the heart of the genre is hope. Pratchett’s close friend and fellow literary celebrity Neil Gaiman provides the foreword.

Lit throughout by the bright star of wonder.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0385538305

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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