A DIRECTOR CALLS

Lesser, editor and publisher of the Threepenny Review, probes the workings of British director Stephen Daldry and, through him, of the theater. Lesser says she had no particular interest in theater directors prior to attending Daldry's 1993 British revival of the J.B. Priestly warhorse An Inspector Calls. She found herself ``being spoken to . . . by a voice I understood.'' She was also intrigued as a literary critic by the idea of theater as the ultimate example of literary interpretation: work brought to ephemeral life by a team of artists, never affecting—or being affected by—its changing audiences in precisely the same way. Lesser spent months watching Daldry at work and talking to the writers, actors, and designers with whom he collaborates. She sat through multiple rehearsals and performances of several plays, including Daldry's hit 1995 restaging of An Inspector Calls in New York City. Her goal, she says, was to write a book that would ``fill the gap between the professor's scrutiny of a frozen script and the reviewer's response to a frozen performance,'' and ``to render into words the experience that takes place implicitly in the mind of the attentive theater goer.'' She falls short of her goal, for the same reason she is so intrigued by theater: Its experience can never be the same as a description of the experience. As hard as Lesser tries, her words can get no closer to the moments she depicts than Priestly's script gets to the magic of an actual performance of the play. But while Lesser's book is less than she intended about what theater is, it is filled with fascinating information about how it is done. Her piece-by-piece deconstruction of the directing process and her backstage revelations will be especially intriguing to people involved in the theater, in particular those playwrights naive enough to think their words are more than raw material to be thrown into the creative pot.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 1997

ISBN: 0-520-21206-1

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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