Friday, January 28, 2011

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child & Avis DeVoto

Yesterday I received a care package from a dear friend at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt filled with some magnificent books. Today I began As Always, Julia and can only marvel at what a gift I've been presented.
Merely twenty pages in and I've already welled up with tears at seeing a friendship blossom, initially over kitchen knives. In just a few letters, the stilted civility of the 1950's quickly gave way to warmth and mutual admiration and became a deep, lifelong friendship.

In a wonderfully prescient letter, Julia describes the French cooking school she founded as "...a real and satisfying profession which will keep me busy well into the year 2000". Just wait, Julia.

More to come. Go buy the book.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Swamplandia! approaches

Just a heads-up on a title I'm more than a little excited to get my hands on. Swamplandia!, by the frighteningly talented Karen Russell, hits bookstore shelves February 1.

Here's an author who demands your attention. A few years ago,
The National Book Foundation named Russell one of their '5 under 35' authors to watch and the New Yorker included her in their '20 under 40' list this past year.

I was bowled over by her marvelous first collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, and one of the stories from that collection, Ava Wrestles the Alligator, is the starting point for the new book.

Here is what I wrote about St Lucy's:

You can also read a recent interview with Russell from here:

Put down the Girl Who Ate My Lunch books. Cast aside the graying Grisham, the predictable Patterson and the insipid Sparks. All hail Karen Russell. All hail Swamplandia!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

          I am at a crossroads with this blog. One brief visit can tell you I don't spend enough time on it or write well enough to make this a site people return to repeatedly. It's nice to believe people come here and learn about a book or two but it's never been my intention for this to become anything more than my opinion about what I read. This has always been for me.

So I'm thinking I've had enough of this. It has become a tiny drudgery. There are days when I finish a book and feel obligated to do a book report. It hangs over me and I procrastinate and then I finally write something and post it and then I pat myself on the back. For what? To write something few people but me read? Vicious circle so what's the use, right?

Yet every time I come here to write my farewell post something stops me and so I am trying to make a decision about what to do. Keep at it or let it go? Change the format? Enlist others? As yet, I'm not sure. I'll never be a great writer or a great critic but I'm a good reader and perhaps that's what this blog should be about. Me reading and then writing. As simple as that.

A decision is forthcoming.
Should you choose to come along, you're most welcome.