Timothy the tortoise is a splendid social critic, a keen-eyed anthropologist who sees far beyond his shell.

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TIMOTHY;

OR, NOTES OF AN ABJECT REPTILE

A dazzling riff on human beings and their weird ways “written” by an 18th-century tortoise that lived for years in the garden of English naturalist/curate Gilbert White and appeared in White’s The Natural History of Selborne (1789).

The shell of the actual Timothy now resides in a London museum and once covered a female, not a male (as White had mistakenly concluded). The Timothy that Klinkenborg (The Rural Life, 2002, etc.), a member of the editorial board of the New York Times, imagines is a fascinating creature with a brisk prose style (many short, sharp sentences and fragments) and significant observations about how we humans look, act and think. Timothy is troubled by the determination of the English to manicure and control the countryside (his single “escape” is prompted by his desire to find a place where he can “live in the ancient disorder of nature again”). He ponders our insistence on classifying the natural world, and he is puzzled by our gait, our failure to recognize that we are animals, our short lives, our burial practices, our clothing, our religion and our sex acts. On virtually every page is a phrase or sentence that entertains or amuses or informs. (“A tortoise,” he says, “lives even longer than a bishop.”) Timothy recognizes that we are a dangerous species: “The worst of their character,” he says of us, “so often prevails.” He expatiates upon chelonian sex and observes that reptiles present “no pretense of fidelity” the way humans do. He wonders about war, about our belief that the world exists for our use alone, about our fear of death—and our fear of life.

Timothy the tortoise is a splendid social critic, a keen-eyed anthropologist who sees far beyond his shell.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2006

ISBN: 0-679-40728-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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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