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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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In the last week or so (keep in mind that I am unemployed):

 

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

The Hidden Children: Secret Survivors of the Holocaust by Jane Marks

and 3 Rex Stout's:

Might As Well Be Dead

If Death Ever Slept

The Doorbell Rang

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A Meal Observed by Andrew Todhunter

Well, this sort of sucked. Todhunter is a fine writer, but he is as qualified to write a book about a meal at Taillevent, as I am to write one about a cricket match. He admits that he is not really into food, he states that he doesn't eat red meat, and he displays a profound ignorance of basic cooking methods and techniques. Then, bizarrely, he will occassionally launch into an exhaustively researched passage on the origins of salt.

 

A man who doesn't eat meat writing a book about 3-star haute cuisine is like a man who doesn't drive a stick-shift writing a book about a Ferrari.

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A Meal Observed  by Andrew Todhunter

Well, this sort of sucked. Todhunter is a fine writer, but he is as qualified to write a book about a meal at Taillevent, as I am to write one about a cricket match. He admits that he is not really into food, he states that he doesn't eat red meat, and he displays a profound ignorance of basic cooking methods and techniques. Then, bizarrely, he will occassionally launch into an exhaustively researched passage on the origins of salt.

 

A man who doesn't eat meat writing a book about 3-star haute cuisine is like a man who doesn't drive a stick-shift writing a book about a Ferrari.

Argh. I saw a recommendation of this in the NYT book review a couple of weeks ago, added it to my list and it is now on its way from Amazon.

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Well, the upside is that he is a very fine writer. There are sections about his family, his wife, and his youth that are fun and entertaining to read. He has a nice sense of style and drives the narrative forward with great imagery and metaphor.

 

Just try not to toss the book across the room when he orders his meal.

 

 

Oh yeah, he and his wife only ordered a 1/2 bottle of white burgundy for their entire multi-course meal. I think that's when I really got upset.

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Oh yeah, he and his wife only ordered a 1/2 bottle of white burgundy for their entire multi-course meal. I think that's when I really got upset.

That's what pissed me off, too.

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Stacks of holiday reading accomplished.

 

The Island at the Center of the World

 

Having heard Russell Shorto lecture about his book twice, I felt it was about time I read it. For a popular history of an obscure Dutch colony, it's a huge bestseller, but then the colony did become New York. He convincingly makes his case that Nieuw Netherland was a full-fledged colony, older than the so-called "original" thirteen states, and that it has been unfairly overlooked by the historians. Some of his direct insight into the motivation, and self-evaluation, of his main protagonist - Adriaen van Donck - is a bit of a stretch in the absence of journals or personal correspondence. But he tells the story very well.

 

Titus Groan

 

The first volume of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. For those who don't know, Peake was a gifted graphic artist, largely forgotten poet, and novelist, whose career was cut short by some awful form of premature dementia. He is probably best remembered now for this trilogy and the very strange novel set in Sark, Mr Pye.

 

The trilogy has the trappings of a sword 'n' sorcery fantasy, but is in fact a quite withering satire on mid-twentieth-century Britain, its social order, its love of pageantry (the more meaningless the better), its general air of stasis. And there are no hobbits (and, so far anyway, no magic of any kind). I have had it on my list for years. I am not surprised that it is beautifully written (and illustrated), but I didn't expect the action sequences to be so gripping. Very suspenseful. One volume down, two to go.

 

Rogues

 

Just translated, two late lectures (the first is, in fact, a lecture series) by Derrida on democracy, the nation state and other political themes. Just wanted to point it out for anyone who is interested. The first series of lectures includes an exercise in applying "deconstruction" to the concept of democracy, and might be of interest to anyone who wants to see how Derrida's techniques are employed to address that kind of issue. Low on the scale of difficulty for Derrida, although it helps if you have some Kant and Baudelaire under your belt. :)

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Oh yeah, he and his wife only ordered a 1/2 bottle of white burgundy for their entire multi-course meal.  I think that's when I really got upset.

That's what pissed me off, too.

Probably trying to hold down the service charge.

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Oh yeah, he and his wife only ordered a 1/2 bottle of white burgundy for their entire multi-course meal.  I think that's when I really got upset.

That's what pissed me off, too.

Probably trying to hold down the service charge.

At the end of the book he frets over how much money he and his wife spent on this "lavish" meal: about $300 for both of them. :)

I can spend more than that at Otto.

 

I've also come to find out that his niche as a writer is covering extreme sports such as rock climbing and mountaineering.

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A Meal Observed  by Andrew Todhunter

Well, this sort of sucked. Todhunter is a fine writer, but he is as qualified to write a book about a meal at Taillevent, as I am to write one about a cricket match. He admits that he is not really into food, he states that he doesn't eat red meat, and he displays a profound ignorance of basic cooking methods and techniques. Then, bizarrely, he will occassionally launch into an exhaustively researched passage on the origins of salt.

 

A man who doesn't eat meat writing a book about 3-star haute cuisine is like a man who doesn't drive a stick-shift writing a book about a Ferrari.

Or Herve Villechaize writing about pole vaulting.

 

Or Dom Deluise writing about ballet slippers.

 

Or Donald Trump writing about coiffure.

 

Or Chris Rock writing about napkin folding.

 

Or Robert Downey Jr. writing about asceticism.

 

Or Gandhi writing about rage.

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