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Anyway: currently reading The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià's elBulli by Lisa Abend. Due out next year (I'm proofing it.) Just started; will report back later whether it's worth the effort.

Turns out the book is almost all about the 2009 batch of stagiaires (unpaid interns, many of whom are cooks--sometimes even chefs--with experience at some of the top restaurants in the world), and to a lesser extent, the chefs de partie (more or less line cooks, but sometimes considerably more). Glimpses of Adrià, but he's not the focus. You do get a pretty good view of how obsessive things are at elBulli (one stagiaire just spherifies stuff all day; another spends much of her time boiling rose petals multiple times; at the beginning of each season, the staff removes, cleans, and replaces the rocks that cover the ground between the parking lot and the restaurant; and the staff is timed on how long it takes them to break down the kitchen and set up for staff meal). But the book otherwise reads like yet another culinary school tell-all along the lines of The Sharper Your Knife and Under the Table, with who's shtupping whom, who breaks down, and so on. :rolleyes:

 

It's interesting for the stuff about how elBulli operates, but as for the rest, YMMV.

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Just finished Ask the Dust by John Fante, a slim novel which didn't live up to the extravagant praise I've heard from Bukowski fans. Henry Miller and Hubert Selby did this kind of thing much better.

I'm currently reading Middlesex, has anyone else read it? I remember it being discussed elsewhere and people were criticizing the fact that it won the pulitzer prize. Maybe not Pulitzer Prize worthy

Several of the pieces in Paris to the Moon appeared earlier as Gopnik's monthly Letters from Paris to The New Yorker. His use of adjectives to describe the weather, the neighborhood, etc impressed me

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I'm reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I'm only on Chapter 3). It's told from the POV of a maid in Mississippi in the 1960's. I have to read it with a southern accent going through my head or sometimes I can't figure out what the narrator is saying, but that's part of what I like about it. Must finish it by Sunday. . .only 400 pages to go!

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I'm reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I'm only on Chapter 3). It's told from the POV of a maid in Mississippi in the 1960's. I have to read it with a southern accent going through my head or sometimes I can't figure out what the narrator is saying, but that's part of what I like about it. Must finish it by Sunday. . .only 400 pages to go!

Book club? or library due notice?

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I'm reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett (I'm only on Chapter 3). It's told from the POV of a maid in Mississippi in the 1960's. I have to read it with a southern accent going through my head or sometimes I can't figure out what the narrator is saying, but that's part of what I like about it. Must finish it by Sunday. . .only 400 pages to go!

Book club? or library due notice?

 

Book club. I never thought I'd join one, but I got roped into it. The first book I had to read was The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre. It sucked and I was wary of continuing with the club, but I'm enjoying this one. I was wrong, though. It's told from the POV of 3 women--two are maids and one is a plantation owner's daughter and they switch off every two chapters from what I can tell so far. Only 300 pages to go!

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Balzac, Splendeurs et Misères des Courtisanes, in a 1901 translation bearing the title A Harlot's Progress. It's a nice little volume with a suitably melodramatic frontispiece. I showed it to the Munchkin, therefore, and before I could prevent it she started passing the book among her friends.

 

I imagine them going home to ask their parents, "What's a harlot? P.'s daddy was reading a book about them." On the upside, the term is probably too archaic for it to be familiar to many of the parents. :blush:

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The first one is a good one. Can't help liking a book which starts with the main character systematically working through samples to find a new house beer. :D

 

I just abandoned a 1909 novel by the utterly forgotten Robert W. Chambers. The Danger Mark. I hate abandoning books, but just because it's forgotten doesn't mean it's a gem.

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High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly by Donald Spoto

 

This book is terrible. I knew just from the introduction that I wouldn't like it, but I had no idea I could hate it as much as I do. What a waste of trees. (It's the book club selection for January, and that's the only reason I'd ever read a book like this.)

 

I did learn a two things about her, though. First, she was still quite young when she was acting. I had always assumed (from her appearance and demeanor) she was about 10 years older than she really was. Second, she and Cary Grant ad-libbed some of the raunchier dialogue in To Catch a Thief. Interesting.

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Grabbed a copy of Cat's Cradle on my way out the door, from the shelf.. Enjoyed it terrificly and purchased Breakfast of Champions and Bluebeard.. I am in the process of reading Bluebeard now.. I was getting around to reading, Vonnegut and very happy I did.. Pretty much hearing the book being told by a dear family friend in my head. It's such a pleasure to read.

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I am betting a dollar nobody has heard of Sigurd Christiansen. Mid-twentieth century Norwegian novelist, little translated.

 

A random reference led me to Two Living and One Dead (1931), the story of the aftermath of a post office robbery in a small Norwegian town and the humiliations of the employee who neglected to get killed protecting the money.

 

Simple, precise, tautly written. Dostoevsky influences the treatment, but not the style, and if Christiansen had had the sense (and money) to move to Paris, he could have hung out with Sartre and Camus without looking at all out of place.

 

Readily available second-hand if anyone cares.

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In similarly Nordic vein, just finishing up one of the Icelandic sagas, Laxdaela Saga. I never got around to reading any of these - a bunch were published in Penguin classics years ago, with TV personality Magnus ("I've started so I'll finish") Magnusson among the translators.

 

As one would expect, since character is shown by actions rather than by psychological introspection, the narrative moves at a brisk clip with much beheading and shedding of entrails. The pace is also helped by the discreet removal of genealogical material (son of Thorstein, son of Harald, great step-son of Noggin, etc) to the footnotes.

 

I think I might try another. They're not overlong.

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