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FALL — the gilded season, the time
of year when we prepare for the colder months ahead,
take long life-affirming breaths of freshening air,
and watch the natural world dress itself in reds and
golds. It’s a time when school years begin with
all their as-yet unspoiled potential, when groups and
committees begin plotting winter’s events, and,
glimpsed on the horizon, even holiday plans begin floating
through our thoughts.
It’s also a wonderful time to begin planning for
those days that will keeping us cozied up indoors reading—and
making a list and checking it twice of all the books
we want to have on hand to carry us through the long
nights and shorter days.
At FEAST, after completing four years of trying to
get out quarterly issues and only irregularly meeting
our goal, we have realized quarterly issues are unrealistic
with our very small staff, especially since I read every
book myself that appears in our pages. We also realize
that, for most people, the number of suggestions in
each issue will surely carry them through from spring
to fall, from fall to spring. This issue is
the first of our fifth year and will be followed in
the future by one issue in the spring, one in the fall,
with occasional mini-suggestions sent out in between.
We hope you’ll like this new, more realistic schedule.
This fall issue we have our usual wide-ranging group
of novels for you to choose from, a handful of nonfiction
to beef up your brain, some cookbooks to set you drooling,
a few art books to satisfy your thirst for color and
design, an extra large
film section because we just couldn’t cut a single
one, and a dab of travel selections—some
new Central America guides and a fascinating armchair
travel narrative. Just because it was irresistible,
we’ve added a radio documentary about
the music of New Orleans and south Louisiana, the “most
musical 125 miles on earth.” I think
you’ll find there’s something here for everyone.
We love to hear from you—both
suggestions and criticisms, so if you feel like sending
us a note, just click here on “What
I think about FEAST.”
Wishing you many miles and many good pages to go—
PS: Don't forget, you can get
updates in between issues of FEAST at our blog: http://www.snaxonline.com,
and through TWITTER
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FICTION THAT BLEW MY HAIR BACK:
Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Heidi W. Durrow.
Algonquin 2010. Winner of the 2008 Bellwether Prize
for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social
justice. One of the key
things about this novel is the author’s striking
mastery of what is called “voice.”
Durrow writes from several points of view in this story
of a girl of mixed ethnic heritage—“white”
and “black”—whose mother steps off
a high-rise roof holding her baby and taking the girl
and her brother with her. The girl is the miraculous
survivor. Her voice as she tries to leave her
painful past behind and become what she calls “the
new girl,” is unique and clear and the perfect
vehicle for exploring how race plays out in American
society. Having been raised the first ten years
of her life in Europe where her heritage was not an
issue, she goes to live with her grandmother in an impoverished,
all-black area of Portland, OR, and is forced to absorb
differences in language and culture that are at once
painful and torturous. The story addresses very real
issues of what it is to be perceived as nonwhite in
the United States, of poverty, drugs, alcoholism, and
the enduring ties of blood and love.
A small book with a giant story to tell.
Fire, Mark Spragg. Knopf 2010. Modern life
in Wyoming is far different than the iconic Old West
images that often spring to mind when thinking of this
sparsely populated state. Spragg’s
novels are beautifully written, literary, and include
fully developed but flawed human beings that provide
us with a range of insights into how to live, to survive
more or less successfully in challenging times.
Set in small-town Ishawooa, this latest book from this
talented writer is no exception. Small town America
is the perfect stage for characters that are complex
rather than stereotypical and these are men and women
we can identify with as we take pleasure in Spragg’s
mastery of the language.
Karl Marlantes. El León Literary Arts and Atlantic
Monthly Press 2010. Marlantes'
600-page literary tour de force about the Vietnam War
absolutely blew me away. I think it’s the best
book I’ve read this year. It took
Marlantes, a Vietnam vet thirty years to complete and
it's sure to become a classic. It is being referred
to as the Great American Vietnam War Novel, up there
with Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and Norman
Mailer's The Naked and the Dead. It has important
pertinence today as we consider what is asked of our
armed forces when our country goes to war, how war takes
our beautiful young men and women into its maw and then
spits them out, the course of their lives forever changed.
This is a powerful, gripping
tale that reveals so much of the boots-on-the-ground
reality of the Vietnam War—its strange savage
mixture of love and friendships formed under fire, the
obscene waste of lives and potential, the heart-searing
irresponsibility of politically motivated "leaders."
Stories of war and battle details are not my usual
choice of reading material, but I found myself drawn
into these men’s struggles, challenges, and often
short-lived victories, absorbing every detail and even
dreaming about the characters. This is tough stuff,
but as someone of the generation whose men went to that
war, it filled in blanks that support my view of war
as a tool of ambitious, driven politicians and brass,
who have insufficient understanding of the effects of
their decisions. I can’t
recommend this book highly enough.
Commentary from the author with a ton of input from
Another fascinating interview: http://living.scotsman.com/books/Interview-Karl-Marlantes-Author-Vietnam.6475927.jp
Leon Literary Arts' website and details and
comments about the book:
Beneath the Sea, Isabel Allende. HarperCollins
2010. Translated from Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden.
Another one of those delightful novels from the author
of one of my long-time favorites, House of Spirits.
As with many of her previous books, this
artful storyteller mixes class, race, and history in
a tale about Haiti’s fight for independence and
freedom from slavery—with a dash of magic thrown
in. The story centers on a young mulatta
who is sold to a plantation owner, treated humiliatingly
like property—as was the norm of the day—and
becomes the only friend and caregiver of the man’s
wife and, later, his son. What happens as the colony’s
slaves are incited to take over the island in order
to be free, the story of who she loves and who she must
endure, is an engrossing read. Whether already
a fan of Allende or coming to her work for the first
time, you’ll love this book.
Creatures, Tracy Chevalier. Dutton 2010.
May Anning began life
with a lightning strike that killed others around her
and spared her to become one of the foremost discoverers
of fossil remains in the 19th century.
Although poor, uneducated, and considered “lower
class,” Mary has the eye to discern fossils buried
for eons in the rock cliffs at the edge of her town.
Through her friendship with a “lady”—Elizabeth
Philpot, a middle-class spinster recently exiled from
London who shares Mary’s passion for finding evidence
of creatures who existed long ago, May’s knowledge
and talent is spread far and wide. Her recognition,
in a time when women were considered “spare parts”
in science, came hard and with consequences. Once
again Chevalier allows us a detailed look at an era,
this one a time when religion trumped science
and the thought that God had not created every living
creature in seven days, making no mistakes whatsoever
that would allow any to become extinct, reigned supreme.
Space Between Us, Thrity Umrigar. HarperCollins
2005. This finely written
book is about the gap between reality and the preconceived
ideas or unthinking reactions we all share about race
and class. Focusing on two women who
live dramatically different lives in modern-day India,
Umrigar casts them in sharp, telling detail. She is
a master of showing rather than “telling”
and she knows the landscape of the Indian culture like
the back of her hand. The two main characters are close
friends in spite of their differences: Sera Dubash,
an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent
surroundings hide the quiet terror of her abusive marriage,
and Bhima, her stoic illiterate maid hardened by a life
of despair and loss. Bhima has worked in Sera’s
household for more than 20 years. In spite of
the fact that for each woman the other is their closest
female friend, throughout the book flashes are seen
of class barriers each is not comfortable crossing.
What is even more ironic, is that each character in
this book at various times reveals prejudices based
on nothing more than feelings. It proves once
again that it’s almost an integral aspect of human
beings that they seek out someone they can feel superior
to, no matter how dire their own circumstances.
A beautiful, poignant, and compelling story brought
to us by one of the finest writers of our time.
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Dial 2009. I loved
this book. The letter style for it was a perfect choice,
partly because the idea of getting to know people through
letters is something that has fallen by the wayside
in this era of instant messaging and sound-bite reading
and writing. From the back cover: “January
1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a
stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary
and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable
tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation,
and of a society as extraordinary as its name."
This book gives a glimpse into conditions
for residents of this British isle during WWII, and
it reinforces the power of words and books to
Some additional information about the authors: http://www.anniebarrows.com/otherbooks/authorsbio/
with Buddha, Roland Merullo. Algonquin 2007.
What a gem of a book!
One of those that somehow appeared on my list to check
out and ended up being something I especially enjoyed.
In a way, it’s Eat, Pray, Love with a male protagonist.
It’s fiction, but feels real. A middle-aged man
with a successful career in publishing, Otto Ringling’s
parents have died suddenly in a car crash and now he
must head from his urban, east coast life out to settle
things at the remote North Dakota farmhouse where he
grew up. He decides to drive so that his sister—who
he thinks of as “flaky” and is sort of a
hippie living an alternative lifestyle—will travel
with him since she won’t fly. When
he arrives at his sister’s home, he finds she
is not going to accompany him but convinces him to give
a ride to her guru, a crimson-robed Skovorodinian monk
to whom she plans to give her half of their inherited
2,000-acre farm. And then the fun begins
as two very different men find common ground as they
wind their way in anything but a direct route across
the country. It’s a delightful read, with some
laugh-out-loud sections and some thoughtful insight
into living our lives with meaning.
Favorites, Mary Yukari Waters. Scribner
2009. A truly lovely story about shifting
loyalties within three generations of women in post-WWII
Japan. Waters writes from the point
of view of fourteen-year-old Sarah Rexford, half Japanese,
half American, as she observes the differences in her
mother when seen in her native cultural environment,
compared with her life in the United States. The
extreme care with which her mother and grandmother’s
generations deal with the feelings between the diverse
individuals in two related households, reveals a sensitivity
that today seems to have fallen out of favor.
There are secrets dating back to the war that are known
to all, yet never discussed. Through the years, Sarah
learns to recognize the beauty to be found in such empathic
though restrictive customs, and to reconsider her own
position of favor within the family.
Compass, Anne Tyler. Knopf 2009. Tyler always
writes about human struggles and foibles—she has
a deep understanding of our efforts to understand and
navigate life. In this story, Liam Pennywell has been
“downsized” and, at 61, feels tired, ready
to just quietly live out the rest of his days. He moves
to a smaller, less expensive apartment after getting
rid of most of his things. On
moving day, he unpacks boxes, arranges his belongings
and, finally, realizing how tired he is, climbs into
bed. He awakes in a hospital with his head bandaged
and no memory of how he got there. Finding
his way through the days and months that follow are
a roadmap for the intricacies of memory and of life,
of entering one’s elder years and finding meaning
in the smaller events of daily living.
More about the author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Tyler
THE CAPTIVATING FACTS - RECOMMENDED NONFICTION:
Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls. Scribner
2005. Memoirs come and go; some are gripping and others
not so much. But rarely is a childhood portrayed as
openly and honestly, yet with so much love, as this
one is. Wall’s
individualistic and often dysfunctional parents loved
her and her siblings deeply, yet equally often endangered
them with their careless and sometimes indifferent approach
to parenting. Her father, when sober,
appears to have been highly intelligent, charismatic,
a dreamer in many ways detached from practical concepts
of raising and supporting a family. As his dependency
on alcohol progressed, he became dishonest and destructive.
Wall’s narcissistic mother envisioned herself
as an artist and provided little emotional support for
her children or appropriate guidance and care. The Wall
children grew up feeding, clothing, taking care of,
and protecting each other—surviving through their
togetherness. It’s an inspiring and poignant
story of resilience and redemption against great odds.
More about the author: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeannette_Walls
by Elizabeth Edwards. Broadway Books 2010. I usually
avoid “celebrity” books like I do cow paddies
in a pasture—for all the symbolic reasons that
simile evokes. But this
book is deeply sincere and human as Edwards places herself
right there in the mess of life along with the rest
of us. For me, it came to my attention
at a time when I needed a little bit of personal courage
and my own concerns seemed so mild when compared to
what she has been through. She speaks candidly for the
most part about her son’s tragic death, her terminal
diagnosis, and even about her husband’s shocking
infidelity—although about the last, I thought
she was more sympathetic toward him than he deserves
and more blaming of the woman than she deserves. It’s
convenient to blame a woman who is instrumental in setting
in motion events that will tear our lives apart—I’ve
been there and done that—but it is the man who
has made the commitment to you and it is him who does
the betraying. Nevertheless, addressing those
issues is just one small part of this book that is aptly
subtitled: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing
Life’s Adversities. I think there’s
something here for anyone to consider and I came away
with an even deeper respect for this woman whose challenges
would overwhelm most of us.
Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming
of Age in America, Helen Thorpe. Scribner
2009. A powerful account
of four young women from Mexico who have lived most
of their lives in the United States and attend the same
high school in Denver, Colorado—two have legal
documentation and two do not. Marisela,
Yadira, Elissa, and Clara—all have their dreams,
their goals, their personal gifts and talents. But all
are not equal under the law and, as they approach adulthood,
the differences in opportunities become painfully obvious.
This is excellent journalism on the part of
Thorpe and an enlightening way to drive home the real
costs of our immigration policy’s weaknesses and
For a fascinating glimpse of the two lives of Helen
Thorpe, author and wife of Denver mayor John Hickenlooper,
check out this story in 5280 magazine: http://www.5280.com/magazine/2009/10/two-lives-helen-thorpe
It Bleed: The Rolling Stones, Altamont, and the End
of the Sixties, Ethan A. Russell with Gerard
Van Der Leun. Springboard Press 2009. Nineteen
sixty-nine was a pivotal year in rock and roll history.
Ethan Russell was one of only 16 people (and the only
photographer) who made up the Rolling Stones 1969 tour
that ended in the chaos that took place during a free
concert at Altamont Speedway in the San Francisco Bay
area. For any fan or history buff of the Rolling
Stones, this book provides essential detail, great photos,
and an only-from-an-insider point of view that will
fascinate and flabbergast. It’s all about
the hard living, fantastic talent, and big-wave riding
adventures of one of the greatest, longest-running bands
of our time.
For more on the tour
and the author
Bill McKibben. Times 2010. This is the first of McKibben’s
books I’ve read and I
must say he packs a powerful punch.
He discusses with considerable clarity how we have fatally
transformed our planet’s environment through unsustainable
practices deeply rooted in our dependency on oil, through
an emphasis on corporate farming aimed at profit-right-now
at all costs, and, particularly in the developed world,
through an unceasing focus on bigger, more acquisitive
lifestyles. His view, simplified, is that we
are living on a fundamentally altered planet and we
had better get ready to hunker down to a different way
of thinking about and using our resources in order to
survive both now and in the future. He writes
quite convincingly about the importance of more local
diversification and community development rather than
the present mega consolidations of such things as energy
and food production. Although the first part of the
book focuses on what might seem to some a “doomsday”
discussion, McKibben fills the second half of the book
with examples of successful, hope-filled, viable means
for holding back the tide of environmental changes that
can only lead to our planet’s demise. This should
be essential reading for
anyone who wants a realistic picture of the effects
of climate change and some proposals for what we, as
individuals, can do to make a difference
in our own spheres of influence.
For more about the book
and the author
For more about 350.org and events planned for 10/10/10:
American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative
to the Traditional Lawn, John Greenlee,
photography by Saxon Holt. Timber Press 2009. For the
gardener who prefers a more environmentally friendly
alternative to large expanses of lawn. Greenlee
presents some attractive and interesting arguments for
ditching stuff that needs constant mowing and huge quantities
of water. Beautiful photographs and
informative suggestions for planting in various parts
of the United States, including resources.
An interview with John
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: A
RADIO DOCUMENTARY – http://www.stillsingingtheblues.org
This is a unique presentation that any fan of music
from this part of the country will thoroughly enjoy.
We stumbled onto it in one of those serendipitous events
that seem to happy daily on the Internet. Here’s
a brief description from the website:
10 corridor between New Orleans and Lafayette has been
described as the “most musical 125 miles on Earth.”
It is famously the birthplace of jazz, zydeco, and Cajun
music, and also has its own brand of funk and R&B.
But New Orleans and South Louisiana also have a strong
blues tradition, which exists below the radar yet provides
the DNA for much of the Pelican State’s other
Still Singing the Blues is a two-part, two-hour
radio documentary series featuring musicians in New
Orleans and South Louisiana who continue to perform
both traditional blues and more commercial rhythm-and-blues.
Part 1 burrows into the lives of three outstanding older
performers: Carol Fran of Lafayette, Harvey Knox of
Baton Rouge, and Little Freddie King of New Orleans.
Part 2 takes listeners into the handful of neighborhood
clubs in New Orleans that keep the blues alive. In addition
to playing on community and public radio stations across
the country, these documentaries will also go online
in August 2010.
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Life with Oysters and Lemon, Mark Doty.
Beacon Press 2001. This small book (only 70 pages) is
a literary gem I plan
to read and reread often. Doty weaves
his experience of falling in love with a still life
painting throughout a book that reveals his
life and human loves, and he does it with truly lovely,
elegant use of language, description, and imagery.
I highly recommend this as a read to savor, rather like
a perfect meal accompanied by just the right wine and
of Lofts, Le Livre des Lofts, Das Loftbuck,
Simone Schleifer and Julio Fajardo, eds. Evergreen 2009.
In New York in the fifties, artists and bohemians in
search of cheap places to live and work began to move
into abandoned late-nineteenth-century buildings that
once were warehouses, workshops, or factories. A new
American version of the Parisian artist’s atelier
was born and spread worldwide, most particularly in
urban settings. No longer
inexpensive spaces, they are often works of art themselves:
luxurious, elegant residences for those who love and
can afford a minimalist approach to housing.
This book features 55 lofts from New York to Paris,
from Germany to Japan—ranging from huge industrial
spaces to small places of business and includes more
than 600 photographs, architectural plans, and computer
graphics. I loved seeing the innovative ideas for space
management, the sometimes unusual materials employed,
and, quite often, the completely re-visioned ideas for
ways to live. Written in English, French, and
German, this would be a lovely gift for anyone interested
in architecture or home design.
One Fire: Art + World View in Cherokee Life,
Chadwick Corntassel Smith and Rennard Strickland with
Benny Smith. University
of Oklahoma Press 2010 . Principal Chief
of the Cherokee Nation Chad Smith and renowned Cherokee-Osage
scholar and author Rennard Strickland present a
unique look at Cherokee art through the lens of Cherokee
philosophy. Since the time when Water
Spider brought the gift of fire to the Cherokee people,
the One Fire, “the Ancient Lady,” has been
at the center of Cherokee spiritual life. This book
offers an engaging discussion of the gifts from the
“four messengers,” the colors and qualities
associated with them, and the four-point circle that
embraces the sacred fire. These aspects of Cherokee
consciousness and creativity are embraced and made manifest
by Cherokee artists. The book contains more
than 200 artworks by some 80 artists and is an exceptional
presentation for those interested in Native American
art themes and inspiration. A welcome gift
for any art collector or student.
A Contemporary Perspective, Paul Coldwell.
Black Dog Publishing 2010. A
thorough journey through the processes and evolution
of printmaking from seventh century woodcuts to the
medium’s most recent developments.
Coldwell begins with a brief history of the processes
and then examines relief prints, intaglio, lithography,
screen prints, and the digital print, all illustrated
with fascinating examples by a range of artists. He
then explores the expanded practices of printmaking,
including reworking traditions, painterly approaches,
the hybrid print, new technology, and others. All in
all, this is a fine overview for anyone interested in
printmaking and fine art practices, a resource
any artist could thumb through again and again for fresh
inspiration and knowledge.
Home: Inspirational Design Ideas, Kim Inglis,
photography by Luca Invernizzi Tettoni. Tuttle Publishing
2009. Bali is known as
a global leader in tropical design, featuring clean
lines with the simplicity of Asian sensibilities.
This book showcases over 100 homes, garden estates,
hotels, resorts, restaurants and more, including the
latest design trends coming out of the island. Many
of these ideas could be adapted to other climes, including
the use of gorgeous materials, both hard and softscape,
striking color management, and dramatic exterior visual
effects combing nature and luxurious living. The
photography alone will have any amateur or professional
decorator itching to get started!
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This issue’s film
section is expanded beyond its usual number because
the first few fall into a category we call “tough”
films. They are gritty portrayals of
subject matter we sometimes want to turn away from,
yet they present opportunities to be more aware, to
witness what’s real for others who share our planet.
To me, this is one important purpose for film. And yet,
because I knew that some scenes would be very difficult
to watch or thought they would be too grim or even depressing,
I skipped them first time around. When I finally
decided to see what they had to offer, I found each
to be deeply moving, beautifully filmed, and well worth
everyone’s attention and the accolades that have
come to them.
Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2008).
Recipient of six academy award nominations and winner
of best supporting actress (Mo’Nique) and best
writing of an adapted screen play (Geoffrey Fletcher).
Set in 1987 Harlem, Precious
is the story of a 16-year-old girl struggling in a bleak
and brutal world. Gabby Sidibe, Mo'Nique,
and Mariah Carey star in this powerful film based on
the novel Push by Sapphire. Viciously abused mentally
and physically by her mother and sexually by her father,
Harlem teen Precious Jones battles unimaginable barriers
to having any sort of life at all. After bearing two
children fathered by her own father, through the intervention
and caring of people in education and social services,
Precious finds a tiny window of possibility. While some
of the scenes are tough, shedding light in these dark
corners makes us all more aware of the desperation some
suffer and, perhaps, will inspire more compassion for
those less fortunate. But there’s more
than that to this film, which also contains a message
of hope, and the main actresses give two of the finest
performances to be found on screen—the film should
not be missed for that reason alone.
Hurt Locker (2008). You’ve heard a
lot about this film and, maybe, like me, initially turned
away from the idea of another violent war movie. But
when I finally sat down to view it I
found that the director, Kathryn Bigelow, has created
an extremely well-filmed, fast-paced portrayal of daily
events in the Iraq war. Yes, it’s
violent—and shockingly so in at least one scene—but
it’s also, I believe, an important realistic look
at what war is, what it does to people, its attractions
as well as its destructiveness. No one comes away from
this film without wondering what possible benefit there
could ever have been or be to our troops being in Iraq
or Afghanistan, or any other war zone of our own making.
It’s extremely powerful and everyone should bear
Cove (2009). Sundance and academy-award-winning
documentary unveils the
horrifying truth behind the capture of dolphins in a
scenic cove in Taijii, Japan. A group
of animal activists visit the site and risk their lives
to film and expose a brutal operation designed to provide
dolphins for the lucrative tourist trade and that creates
an environmental catastrophe in the making. Those
dolphins not selected for show animals (bringing prices
up to $150,000 each) are sold for meat—meat containing
high levels of contaminants—and used in mandatory
school lunches. Even the majority of Japanese
people were unaware this was going on and the film was
banned for a time in Japan; eventually permission was
obtained for limited screenings at which protests were
staged. Watching this film yourself and passing the
word to others can help put
an end this inhumane practice.
Messenger (2008). An injured U.S. soldier,
Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), is paired up with
by-the-book Capt. Tony Stone (Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson)
to notify families of
killed soldiers—a job that bonds them as they
debate different views on serving America.
At odds at first, the two find common ground while facing
a variety of challenges.
Bone (2010). Winner of the 2010 Sundance
Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt
Screenwriting Award, directed by Debra Granik, and adapted
for the screen by Granik and Anne Rosellini. Seventeen-year-old
Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) must find her father after
he uses their family house to secure his bail and then
disappears without a trace. With a mentally
ill mother and a young sister and brother depending
on her for their survival in this harsh Ozark culture,
Ree challenges her outlaw kin's code of silence and
risks her life to try to save their home. She hacks
through the lies, evasions, and threats offered by her
relatives, and begins to piece together the truth. Stunningly
filmed and an oscar-possibility acting performance.
and the Real Girl (2007). When you first
hear that this film is about a
young man falling in love with a life-size sex doll
he’s bought over the Internet,
you might think this is going to be a stupid movie without
redeeming qualities. Surprisingly, it’s not so.
First it’s part whacky comedy and I couldn’t
stop laughing at some of the early scenes—then
it becomes poignant as a whole town gets involved.
There’s a deeper theme here about acceptance of
difference. I think you’ll enjoy it—
king of the southern table, James Villas.
Wiley 2010. As the award-winning author of this just-out
cookbook emphasizes: “I can’t state it any
more succinctly: Pork is and has been and always will
be my favorite meat. . . .
Today pig is as much king on the Southern table as when
I took my first bites of juicy pork roast with sweet
potatoes, fried salty country ham with red-eye gravy,
and pickled pigs’ feet.”
For the lover of succulent, spicy, or BBQ’d pork,
this book is a must-have for your kitchen. Villas brings
us not only an abundance of mouth-watering recipes—300
in all—with gorgeous full-color photography “from
the Mason-Dixon to the Gulf of Mexico and everywhere
in between,” he seasons it all with the
spirit of Southern cooking’s history and culture
and includes favorite recipes from some of the region’s
most cherished restaurants.
Here’s a sample recipe for Slow-Roasted
Pork Shoulder with Orange-Raisin Sauce
An earlier interview with Villas that tells more about
his background: http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/au-villas-james.asp
Cookbook, recipes by Roberta Pianaro; culinary stories
by Donna Leon. Atlantic Monthly Press 2009.
For those of you not familiar with the charming, very
popular novels by Donna Leon featuring Commissario Guido
Brunetti, sited in Venice, Italy, they are worth dipping
into just for the luscious descriptions of food alone.
Leon knows Venice well—the
everyday life that tourists might never glimpse. She
has woven original essays about Brunetti’s life
throughout this fabulous collection of recipes provided
by Leon’s best friend and favorite cook, Roberta
Pianaro. Nearly 100 tasty choices, fully
illustrated, capture the essence of Italian cooking
in this part of the country. I always enjoy a cookbook
that moves beyond recipes alone, embedding them in a
narrative about a time or place we can picture
ourselves visiting, sitting down with congenial friends
at their abundant table, sipping wine, trading stories,
living the good life.
For more details about Donna
School of Essential Ingredients, Erica Bauermeister.
Putnam 2009. This is the perfect book for those who
love the sensuous qualities of food—the color,
the texture, the shared camaraderie of a well-prepared
and beautifully presented meal. Bauermeister’s
first novel is the story of a cooking class and the
lives of the eight people who comprise it. It’s
a celebration of the
senses—taste, touch, sight, smell, reinforced
with an underlying melody of conversation.
As you savor this tale, peace and beauty descend, enfolding
you in life’s physical joys, lingering in the
memory like the last melting spoonful of Tiramisu on
Bauermeister's website to learn more about
her and sample her favorite recipes.
in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes, Elizabeth
Bard. Little, Brown 2010. This is the kind of narrative
“cook book” that I find a special treat.
A combination of memoir about a particular time in an
author’s life and recipes for foods prepared to
accompany events. Bard
tells us the story of falling in love with a French
man and how she learned to navigate a new life in Paris
along with marriage, family, cross-culture negotiations,
and the food that came to fascinate her.
Light, delectable reading.
For more fun writing from Elizabeth Bard: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-bard
• Road Rash
-> go to top
-> go to bottom
Belize, Joshua Berman. Moon Handbooks 2009.
From a writer who has spent years exploring the rich
land and sea heritage of Belize comes an updated guide
to how to get around, what to see, where to stay, and
a myriad of other tips and ideas. Not
only has Berman traveled extensively in this country
on his own, but he’s taken his wife and baby with
him and has first-hand knowledge about enjoying the
culture en famille. Includes sections
on the best of Belize, the Mundo Maya, all about the
world-class diving, jungle explorations, butterfly safaris,
and the exciting birding to be found in Belize. 43 detailed,
ALSO OUT THIS FALL
by Joshua Berman and Randall Wood: Moon
Nicaragua and Living
Abroad in Nicaragua
Berman 's website
What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching
the Perfect Wave, Peter Heller. Free Press
2010. I love a book that is part travel adventure, part
learning about someone taking on physical challenges
in unexpected ways. At
an age when most people are settling for quieter sports,
acclaimed author Peter Heller gets sucked up into the
undertow of learning to surf, coming face-to-face with
the ocean’s seductive beauty and endangered existence.
Some men buy red sports cars and sport twenty-somethings
on their arms when they enter their middle years, but
Heller resolves to throw himself whole heartedly into
a six-month effort to go from beginner—“kook”—to
mastering a big-hollow wave as he and his girlfriend
explore the surfer’s life from southern California
and down along the coasts of Baja and mainland Mexico.
Along the way he finds, often to his surprise, that
not everything in his relationships with surf, sea,
and girlfriend is controllable, that at times he must
simply hope to survive until he can breathe freely again.
A great adventure that
made me wish I wasn’t far past the age to take
Heller ’s website
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THE EDITOR: Rosemary Carstens is a freelance writer,
author, and publication consultant living in Longmont,
Colorado. She is the author of DREAMRIDER: Roadmap
to an Adventurous Life (Black Lightning Press 2003)
and co-author of SUSTAINING THOUGHT: Thirty Years
of Cookery at the School of American Research (2007).
She presently has a biography about American artist
Annette Nancarrow, friend of Diego Rivera and Frida
Kahlo in progress. Carstens is available for speaking
engagements and workshops on the topics presented here
and more. When not in the comma factory, she loves to
ride the Rockies on her motorcycle, the Road Goddess.
information is available at http://www.CarstensCommunications.com
Rosemary Carstens 2010. Reprints available with permission.