An academic exegesis of the popular jazz form and its musicians. Bebop was a revolutionary new style when it burst on the jazz scene in the late 1940s. Created by a small coterie of primarily New Yorkbased jazzmen, including legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianist Thelonious Monk, and trumpeter/bebop spokesperson Dizzy Gillespie, it was a melodically and harmonically complicated chamber music with unusual rhythms that demanded serious listening (the earlier big-band jazz had been more approachable, with its simple, repetitive melodies, predictable chord changes, and toe- tapping rhythms). Beginning his work with a historical overview, Owens traces the roots of bebop, focusing on Parker's saxophone stylings. He then moves rather mechanistically through a study of different instrumentalists (alto and tenor sax players, trumpeters, pianists, bassists, drummers, etc.), ensembles, and today's ``young masters.'' Owens primarily relies on close interpretation of the ``scores'' of the major bebop works; like a patient graduate student, he guides us through the key motives and harmonics employed by Gillespie, Monk, et al. Of course, such a discussion is absurdly reductionist: Owens asserts that Parker's memorable style is primarily based on a descending ``scalar organization'' that he finds in the saxophonist's solos, ignoring Parker's unique sound, his raw emotionality, and his stunning technique. The author himself admits that many elements of the bebop style ``defy meaningful representation in musical notation,'' yet this is essentially his modus operandi throughout the book. Another problem is his decision to group together instrumentalists who are often stylistically disparate, which results in a disjointed narrative. The inclusion of a glossary with definitions of basic musicological terms will not make this more palatable for a general audience. A triumph of the academy over a musical style that, to this point, had avoided institutionalization. ``Bebop lives,'' Owens asserts—but not in this text.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-505287-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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