This week we have some dead men, some “issues”, some power and delight and, just in time for the Hellidays, an epic battle for kitchen dominance.

Let us begin!

John brings us something seemingly without women who are crazy.  I am a little worried here. “This week, I'm reading The Rook, a debut novel from Australian-by-way-of-Ireland author Daniel O'Malley, who creates a Welsh character who lives in London (but visits Scotland). The novel begins with the protagonist, Myfanwy Thomas, waking up in a London park, with no memory, surrounded by dead men--all wearing purple robes and latex gloves.  Then it gets weird.  This is definitely somewhat of a genre-bending book because on one hand, it pokes a little bit of fun at the supernatural literary tradition, but on the other hand, it's an incredibly compelling, well-paced and entertaining story.  It's also very amusing in the places where British restraint collides with the truly bizarre--how do you retain your dignity when you're covered in slime?  The ‘occurrences’ and ‘horrors’ are unique and far from overdone.  A fresh originality shines through.  So if a book on Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service piques your interest, then I highly recommend this and I look forward to reading more from O'Malley.”

Ann is reading Elsewhere A Memoir by Richard Russo which worryingly has the crazy woman that John is missing. “I am a big Richard Russo fan and so I looked forward to reading this memoir.  Richard was raised by his single mother in Gloversville, New York,  known for its tanneries and making gloves. Richard's mother whom he loved dearly had 'issues' which made her truly dependent on her son to be strong for her even as a young child.  He lived his life for his mother to truly help her cope with changing circumstances in her life and in his.  I thought it was well written, but I do have to admit that after a while I did feel he was whining a bit.  I also wish he would have given more insight into his wife, Barbara, who was certainly his strength as his mother aged and her condition worsened.”

Stephanie is sticking to her current election year theme.  “On the presidential biography front, I have moved on to Jon Meacham’s new Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. It’s actually a pretty good complement to the Caro books, which are also focused on the acquiring and use of political power (and Jefferson and LBJ have a surprising number of things in common aside from both having been president). I also finally got to read, after hearing so many patrons and staff rave about it, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and thought it was great. So funny! This real delight of a book was perfect for my commute. It’s hard to find a truly satisfying funny book, so it’s great to have found this one.”

Those who know me, know about my Cookbook Crush and how dangerous I consider some food writers.  Take for example the late, terribly missed Laurie Colwin.  Opening her books Home Cooking and More Home Cooking which are essays on well, home cooking, to retrieve a recipe is an action fraught with danger.  Why?  Simply put,  the danger is that the food may not actually get cooked.  Because once you start reading her, you can’t stop to start cooking.  When she died I wept.  My then husband at the time thought I was insane.  Yes, well I am well rid of him.  My latest dangerous cookbook is Cook Fight: 2 Cooks, 12 Challenges, 125 Recipes:  An Epic Battle for Kitchen Dominance by Kim Severson and Julia Moskin.  This started as a New York Times article on entertaining during these uncertain economic times.  The gauntlet was thrown!  Would Kim or Julia be the winner of the $50 dinner party for 6?  Frank Bruni, then the restaurant critic called it a tie (wimp) but what started as a battle in the end became a lovely dialogue between two wonderful friends who happen to be fabulous cooks.  Good luck to my family next Thursday.  They may be reduced to looking longingly at pictures from The Thanksgiving Challenge.  Hint for them:  It’s on page 238.
 

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