This engaging tale will leave many reaching for their Graham Greene.




An award-winning British journalist retraces the young novelist Graham Greene’s 1935 walk through Sierra Leone and Liberia.

At 30, Greene was looking for “a smash-and-grab raid into the primitive” when he set out on the jungle trek recounted in his travel book Journeys Without Maps. His entourage included his cousin Barbara and 26 porters, three servants and one chef. More than 70 years later, Butcher (Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart, 2008) made his way through the same remote backcountry in the wake of civil warfare that he had covered recently as African correspondent for the London Telegraph. Like Greene, he is attracted by the thrill of danger, but he also sought to understand the modern evil that has fostered child soldiering and violence over “blood diamonds” in the region. Accompanied by a friend’s son, Butcher found many villages unchanged since Greene’s visit, which is occasionally recalled by village elders. In Sierra Leone, he visited Freetown, once the “Athens of Africa,” now poor and corrupt, and a transit point for Colombian cocaine barons moving drugs into Europe. Greene based his novel The Heart of the Matter on his own stay in Freetown, whose seediness informs much of his fiction. In Liberia, Butcher met war victims, rice farmers and others, and discovered communities where secret societies worship the devil. While vividly describing the beauty of landscapes and the ugliness of derelict shantytowns, the author weaves in stories of freed slaves who settled both Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the tensions between settlers and indigenous people that have shaped the histories of both places. At journey’s end, Butcher has a new understanding of Greene the adventurer, whose own trek sparked the novelist’s lifelong love of Africa.

This engaging tale will leave many reaching for their Graham Greene.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-935633-29-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atlas & Co.

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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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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