A tender portrait of a clan coming into its own on the ocean.

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Bluewater Walkabout

INTO AFRICA: FINDING HEALING THROUGH TRAVEL

A family sails from South Africa to the Caribbean in this debut memoir.

The travel bug bit Dreffin early when her mother routinely dragged her to the library. There, she fell in love with the idea of foreign lands. When she moved to Houston to become a real estate broker, she felt disconnected. She struggled to pay her bills and was sexually assaulted. Enter Peter: the brother of her older brother’s wife who kept popping up. Dreffin carried a list of qualities she sought in a man and always felt sparks around Peter. When she met him in Florida, something clicked. He asked her to sail to the Caribbean with him, she agreed, and they began a whirlwind romance, living on a boat. In 2002, when their sons, Adam and Warren, were teenagers, she floated the idea of a family “South Pacific Expedition.” This ambitious odyssey set them on a safari followed by a sailing trip from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to Brazil. The journey took four months. On safari in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, they spied magnificent beasts, coming close to an elephant protecting his young, a herd of 200 buffalos, and a leopard so beautiful it was like “feeling the presence of God.” After the band left Capetown, it soon headed into the ocean on a catamaran. The family saw whales break water, braved a rogue wave that nearly threw Dreffin overboard, and visited towns full of thriving cultures. For all of the thrills of intimately exploring nature, little danger befell the group. Dreffin’s writing is the strongest when unpacking difficult events, such as recounting the death of her daughter in utero or summoning the strength to face the rogue wave (“The demon had knocked me off my feet, leaving me in a tangle of spiraling limbs…I felt fear as never before. It segued into terror as I fought against the pull of the wave”). She crafts a touching tale of travelers at their peak, but often chooses to skim over the dramatic; she alludes to one of the boys aboard having a manic episode due to undiagnosed bipolar disorder, but shies away from describing it. While designed as a family snapshot, the account could have used more tension, elevating Dreffin’s story.

A tender portrait of a clan coming into its own on the ocean.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9979996-1-7

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2016

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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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