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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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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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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