For readers distressed by the destruction of Brazil's rain forest and inclined to further armchair exploration of that country's threatened ecosystems, Banks's first-person travelogue offers a standard blend of background on the 400,000-square- kilometer Pantanal wilderness in southern Brazil, journal-like narration of his progress through the region, observation of its abundant but endangered wildlife, and eco-alert on current environmental abuses. Though photojournalist Banks (National Geographic, Smithsonian, etc.) is an able writer and recounts his share of hairy experiences—a bee attack, precarious crossings of unstable bridges, a hotel room shared with assorted uninvited wildlife—his descriptions of the plethora of birds and animals are almost perfunctory, and he never establishes himself or his mission, an almost idly presented photo expedition, as a lure for reader involvement. Much of the book's first half details Banks's journey through the Pantanal to the national park in its southern reaches; but once he's there, the story plods on without a change of pace or tone through a meal, a disappointing dearth of the wildlife that had been so abundant on the way, a fishing trip without a catch, and, with no more ado, the journey back. No doubt the 60 photographs (40 color, 20 b&w) yet to come will contribute needed life to this relatively bland account. And there is more to chew on in the book's second half, where Banks gets into environmental issues and reports on interviews and visits with Brazilians concerned about the impact of ranchers' land-clearing fires, farmers' agrichemical abandon, gold miners' careless use of mercury, poachers' animal-skin hunting and illegal commercial fishing, and inadequate police enforcement of protective legislation. Another so-so addition, then, to a familiar story that still needs telling.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1991

ISBN: 0-87156-791-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

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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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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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