A fresh writer’s salad garnished with an colorful dressing for foodies with a yen for sensual comestibles.

HEIRLOOM

NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL TOMATO FARMER

Lovingly crafted memoir about the author’s days producing organic veggies on his small farm in Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Stark’s Eckerton Hill Farm provides fruits and vegetables for a discerning retail clientele at New York’s Union Square Greenmarket. The author also delights the palates of sophisticated foodies via the kitchens of the great chefs at Gotham’s priciest eateries. Once just another management consultant, Stark became a truck farmer more than a decade ago. Recounting his evolution as a grower of culinary goodness, he salutes the cadre of volunteers, draftees, relatives, neighbors and migrant Mexicans who plowed, picked and helped. He acknowledges the hornworms, quack grass, Canadian thistle, mice and a groundhog that hindered his efforts; the woodchuck he murdered still evokes remorse. A rusted Ford 8N tractor, a Case 530 with a front-end loader and a Toyota pickup, along with a manure spreader and a nine-tine cultivator, helped produce succulent snap peas and chard, microgreens and kale, baby beets, asparagus, berries, cherries, purple eggplants and fiery habanero peppers. Naturally, it wasn’t easy. “I lose money big time on corn,” Stark notes, “but I sell every ear.” The cash crop proved to be tomatoes, those artisanal love apples with the most luxuriant nomenclature: Czechoslovakian Stupices, Wild Mexicans, Cherokee Purples, Striped Germans, Brandywines and White Wonders. Along with the story of pomi d’oro, readers get an introduction to regular farmer’s market customers and sellers and a field guide to the practices of Stark’s affable Amish and Mennonite neighbors. Other aspects of the author’s cultivation surface in references to diverse literary sources from Cheever to Crèvecoeur. It all combines to make entertaining light fare.

A fresh writer’s salad garnished with an colorful dressing for foodies with a yen for sensual comestibles.

Pub Date: July 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2706-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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THE GREAT BRIDGE

THE EPIC STORY OF THE BUILDING OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE

It took 14 years to build and it cost 15 million dollars and the lives of 20 workmen. Like the Atlantic cable and the Suez Canal it was a gigantic embodiment in steel and concrete of the Age of Enterprise. McCullough's outsized biography of the bridge attempts to capture in one majestic sweep the full glory of the achievement but the story sags mightily in the middle. True, the Roeblings, father and son who served successively as Chief Engineer, are cast in a heroic mold. True, too, the vital statistics of the bridge are formidable. But despite diligent efforts by the author the details of the construction work — from sinking the caissons, to underground blasting, stringing of cables and pouring of cement — will crush the determination of all but the most indomitable reader. To make matters worse, McCullough dutifully struggles through the administrative history of the Brooklyn Bridge Company which financed and contracted for the project with the help of the Tweed Machine and various Brooklyn bosses who profited handsomely amid continuous allegations of kickbacks and mismanagement of funds. He succeeds in evoking the venality and crass materialism of the epoch but once again the details — like the 3,515 miles of steel wire in each cable — are tiresome and ultimately entangling. Workmanlike and thorough though it is, McCullough's history of the bridge has more bulk than stature.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1972

ISBN: 0743217373

Page Count: 652

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1972

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An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both...

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SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (General Relativity: The Most Beautiful of Theories, 2015, etc.) shares his thoughts on the broader scientific and philosophical implications of the great revolution that has taken place over the past century.

These seven lessons, which first appeared as articles in the Sunday supplement of the Italian newspaper Sole 24 Ore, are addressed to readers with little knowledge of physics. In less than 100 pages, the author, who teaches physics in both France and the United States, cogently covers the great accomplishments of the past and the open questions still baffling physicists today. In the first lesson, he focuses on Einstein's theory of general relativity. He describes Einstein's recognition that gravity "is not diffused through space [but] is that space itself" as "a stroke of pure genius." In the second lesson, Rovelli deals with the puzzling features of quantum physics that challenge our picture of reality. In the remaining sections, the author introduces the constant fluctuations of atoms, the granular nature of space, and more. "It is hardly surprising that there are more things in heaven and earth, dear reader, than have been dreamed of in our philosophy—or in our physics,” he writes. Rovelli also discusses the issues raised in loop quantum gravity, a theory that he co-developed. These issues lead to his extraordinary claim that the passage of time is not fundamental but rather derived from the granular nature of space. The author suggests that there have been two separate pathways throughout human history: mythology and the accumulation of knowledge through observation. He believes that scientists today share the same curiosity about nature exhibited by early man.

An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both scientists and general readers.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-18441-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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