This past weekend while in San Francisco, I came across Omnivore, a delightful little bookshop specializing in food books. I thought of my brother instantly, since he’s a chef and a big devourer of food books, but I also had to restrain myself for opening the wallet and purchasing a vast quantity of food books.
Food writing is a special breed of literature. It’s both scientific and artistic, straightforward and poetic. I’ve read several fantastic books about food, and I’m itching to read more, particularly as my brother grows his pop-up restaurant.
One book that caught my eye at Omnivore was The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. This book focuses on the influence various plants have had on our drinking culture, combining history, botany and mixology in one. If I end up picking it up, I’ll let you all know how it is.
I finished Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (by Dai Sijie) last night, after a down-and-dirty reading session on a flight to San Fran for work, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t like the book.
It was one of those situations where you’re sort of surprised at your not liking it, once you come to the end, because reading the book itself wasn’t a struggle. The ending was just beyond anticlimactic, and while that may have been a deliberate choice, to mimic some of the French authors referenced in the novel itself, the entire story really lacked some punch.
The premise is interesting, inherently: two young men in China are sent to the rural mountain villages in the throes of the People’s Revolution, to be ‘re-educated.’ I learned a great deal about this period in China, and the injustices so many experienced as a result of their being labeled the ‘bourgeois class.’ So that element of the novel definitely adds an interesting layer. But not enough to mask the underwhelming love triangle storyline.
The best thing about this book is that it has inspired me to want to read some of the French classics: Balzac, of course, and Rolland and Camus. So perhaps the Provence-inspired Francophile binge will continue into the French literary greats…
Typewriters of Famous Authors
I want to move to the South of France.
Ok, not really. But the romantic, dying-to-frolic-through-fields-of-lavender part of me does. And the part that wants to eat a lot of cheese.
But, in all seriousness, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, is the exact type of book that inspires you to want to move to a lovely 200-year-old stone farm house in the South of France, or at least vacation in one for a two-week window.
Utterly charming, beautifully written, (Mayle was an advertising copywriter for 15 years before moving to France to pursue book writing), and full of captivating, vivid descriptions of hearth-side meals, vineyards lush with grapes warming in the sun and hearty, smiling, weather-worn French faces and bottles of deep red wine, A Year in Provence is, indeed, one of those books that transports you.
It was so good, I’m reading the ‘sequel:’ Encore Provence. Will let you know how that goes…
I am so proud of my brother. He’s a budding chef, and he’ll be doing a pop-up restaurant two nights a week in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m bummed to be missing it.
My blog has been horrendously neglected. That will henceforth be amended. (Fingers crossed!)
In the original spirit of this blog, I’m going to write about what I’m currently reading, or things I want to be reading, from books, blogs and articles to cookbooks, (I’m keeping them all, Dave!), maps and lists.
I recently moved to San Diego, California, (Encinitas to be exact.), and I joined the lovely Encinitas Public Library. I picked up Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, partly because I have always wanted to read it and partly because I’ve been feeling mildly nostalgic for the slow, drawling pace of the South, post move. The book did not disappoint and thoroughly lived up to its reputation. Saturated with kooky characters, spirits, (both ghosts and the alcoholic variety), Savannah history and mystery, this book made for a quick read. I finished feeling like I’d learned something new. Lots of things new, actually. And my heart made a little pitter patter for the unique city that Savannah is.
In other news, I have heard the movie version definitely does not live up to the book. Thoughts?
At the beach #endlesssummer (at Rockaway Beach - 69th Street)