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It's the New Year, New Thing Edition

Greetings and welcome to the New Year, New Thing Edition of You Are What You Read.

That’s right People it’s a New Year and a new Thing has come to my attention.

Apparently, if it’s good luck you’re after for the aforementioned New Year you need to get cracking and make a Lemon Pig.

What, the what?

Lemon Pig, People!

Last year the blog Grannie Pantries: A Place to Appreciate the Horrors of Vintage Cookbooks, which is, as stated, devoted to the horrors found in vintage cookbooks (of course I am a devotee), found in a 1970’s promotional cookbook put out by Alcoa, a decorative pig which was made from a lemon. The caption underneath the photo reads; “For luck in the New Year, a Lemon Piglet is a must!” Along with this declarative sentence came directions on how to make the pig using a lemon, some toothpicks, cloves, a shiny penny for the mouth (I don’t understand that part but ok), and because the cookbook was put out by Alcoa which is short for Aluminum Company of America, foil for the tail.

Well not surprisingly this went viral because why not. Of course it did!

This was not a totally new idea in 1970. Lemon Pig has been around since the 1880’s, where they were touted as a craft project for kids. I don’t think that our great-grandparents knew that they were making a good luck totem. I just think that they were looking for something to do when not plowing fields, or walking 4 miles uphill to school Idle hands and all that.

Lemon Pig is fancier than you think and has some pretty chic friends. Jacques Pepin is a huge fan, giving instructions in his last two cookbooks, but he goes for the tail made of parsley not foil. Because, you know, Jacques Pepin.

Look People, last year was a hideous one for me and I am not taking any chances. I will be making my very own Lemon Pig ASAP and I urge you all to do the same. It’s supposed to be a freezing, horrible weekend. Stay inside with the Fam, get a fire going (but only if you have a fireplace), pour a little something (but not too near the open flame and make sure you do your knife work early into the sipping) and make yourself a whole Sounder of Citrus Swine. Hedge those bets People! You can’t be too careful.

Want more Lemon Pig 411? Atlas Obscura is your friend on this one. Also, do check out the Grannie Pantries blog. She’s hilarious.

This week we have some Nigeria, a love story, a debut, seven rules, and a new guilty pleasure.

Let us begin!

Sweet Ann is starting the New Year happily with Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. “I loved this book. The writing is engaging and there are many plot twists and turns that I found startling and surprising. The setting for this novel is Nigeria from the 1980's until 2008. Yejide and Akin are a happily married couple until family interferes. Yejide is unable to conceive a child so the family convinces Akin to take a second wife, so he will have an heir. This will prove devastating to Yejide and Akin. What becomes startling at one point is that Akin knows why his wife is unable to get pregnant but does not share that information with her. I quite enjoyed this book and felt sad when it ended. I think I will always remember Yejide.”

James is here with his take on a movie that’s been getting a lot of awards buzz. “After reading (the article about it in Out), Call Me by Your Name made it onto my relatively short list of movies that I had to see. When I learned that my favorite musician, Sufjan Stevens, did the music for the film, I became a bit obsessed. I’ll admit that I saw the movie before reading the book, but I will recommend both. The movie is of that love-it-or-hate-it artsy, understated, European indie film ilk. But it’s just that kind of film which makes you watch two people biking down a road for much longer than you would think reasonable that also manages to capture those tiny gestures and hints of two people falling in love that make you remember all the confusion and elation when it first happened to you. It is a beautiful and devastating film and deserves all the attention it is getting. The book is written in the first-person narrative letting you into the head of a seventeen-year-old as he traverses that maddening path of falling for someone, obsessing over whether its reciprocated, and the overanalyzing of glances and replaying of scenes in your head that goes with it. The book absolutely gutted me.”

Mallory is just plain giddy! “I am very, very excited for folks to finally get to read A.J. Finn’s stellar debut The Woman in the Window. Set in a Manhattan brownstone, Anna Fox is a former psychologist and relatively recent agoraphobic. Anna spends her days staring out her window, fervently watching the goings-ons of her neighbors, and watching old black and white films. After a mix of merlot and some of her favorite noir classics, Anna witnesses an act of violence committed in a home just across the street... or did she? This tense thriller will keep you up late in to the evening, frantically flipping pages and wishing you could share a glass of wine with Finn’s heroine.”

Jeanne is only doing one thing. Will this be a new year’s trend? “If Eleanor Oliphant and Forrest Gump had a daughter she might be like Elvira Carr who is smart, funny, kind and very perceptive, but not on the same wavelength as most people. She would have to develop rules for navigating the NeuroTypical world. Seven rules, to be exact. The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard is one of the best books that I read in 2017. It is the story of a young British woman who is suddenly on her own and trying to understand the motives of her neighbors, her family and, especially her secretive father. I rooted for Elvira as she figured out what was true or false; who was friend or foe; where was help or harm. She is told she has a ‘Condition’ that keeps her very literal about situations and words. Figures of Speech are the bane of her existence. Cookies are her passion! This book is not without its struggles, but it tells the story with heart and British humor."

The Always Delightful Pat S. has been begging me to read The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown. “Calling all those interested in the popular culture of the eighties (East Coast style), this memoir is for you! It is 1983 and Tina Brown, Oxford grad and Tatler editor turnaround queen, arrives at Conde Nast in New York City ready to turn her talents to reviving Vanity Fair magazine. Fueled by ambition, this 27-year-old takes on the high and low of the Reagan era, and crafts it into a winning mix. And through it all, Brown carefully maintained these diaries. On the work front, we watch how she navigates the politics of working for the Newhouse family, and through relentless networking, creating a staff of literary stars whose reportage we still read (James Wolcott) and see (Annie Liebowitz) today. Like flies on the wall, Brown brings us to dinner parties, galas and languorous weekends in the homes of the fashionably chic as she hobnobs with the social, financial, literary and entertainment rainmakers of the time. Come along and meet Mick Jagger, Henry Kissenger, Brooke Astor, Clint Eastwood, Nancy Reagan, Oscar De la Renta, Dominick Dunne, Anna Wintour, William Shawn, Robert Gottlieb, and lest I forget, Donald Trump. This is the most delicious of guilty pleasures!”

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