What can one say? This is a truly superb cookbook, and lavishly illustrated too. Great recipes, and many of them work on the hour time-frame--prep andWhat can one say? This is a truly superb cookbook, and lavishly illustrated too. Great recipes, and many of them work on the hour time-frame--prep and cooking. This is a keeper, to be sure....more
This really is an amazing cookbook. Would I make every recipe? No. I like fish and shell-fish, but my wife does not. What is particularly lovely aboutThis really is an amazing cookbook. Would I make every recipe? No. I like fish and shell-fish, but my wife does not. What is particularly lovely about this cookbook is that the recipes are centered around the four seasons of the year. A fellow (or lady) can sort of take a shopping list and pots and pans and gin up some seriously quality food that's gonna match what is available in the local farmers' markets. I've gone through and starred what I'll be trying. I'll keep you posted, but I'm salivating already. And if you ain't hungry it'll damn sure make you want to visit Castello di Vicarello and try try some of Aurora Basccheschi Berti's food and and bed and breakfast!...more
What a poignantly beautiful little novel. This is the story of a young woman, Laurel, who lives in a small valley (the "cove") in the Appalachian MounWhat a poignantly beautiful little novel. This is the story of a young woman, Laurel, who lives in a small valley (the "cove") in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Laurel is basically shunned by all of the folks that live around her because of her port-wine stain birthmark that they believe marks her as a witch. This novel takes place several months after America's entry in the First World War.
During the course of the novel we meet Laurel's older brother, who has returned from France after having lost a hand in combat. The brother and sister find a mute young man, Walter, one day who has been badly stung by yellow-jackets and they nurse him back to health. Walter ends up helping Hank and Laurel as they fix up the family farm in the cove.
There's an almost Thomas Hardy-like quality to the telling of this pastoral tale, and the reader can't help but fall in love with Laurel, appreciate the stolid Hank, and wonder about the mystery of young Walter. But, like a Hardy novel, the reality of life always has a way of interjecting itself into the scene. While I don't want to give anything away, suffice it to say that the ending is dramatic and not altogether unexpected.
I have visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park and much of the region of western North Carolina and this novel really connected with me. I can't express how delighted I am to have recently discovered the fiction and poetry of Ron Rash, an author that truly seems to have his finger on the pulse of Appalachia--the environment and the people....more
A short-story collection that will kick your butt! It is so unfair, and so cliche, to compare Ron Rash's fiction to Cormac McCarthy's; and while I canA short-story collection that will kick your butt! It is so unfair, and so cliche, to compare Ron Rash's fiction to Cormac McCarthy's; and while I can understand people doing that, it is wrong on so many levels. Rash has his own voice and has his own muse. This particular collection is amazing and the stories span the 19th through the 21st centuries. There are thirty-four stories here and thirteen of them were absolute showstoppers for me.
When I wore a younger man's clothes I 'pooh-poohed' short-story collections. Don't ask me why, I really haven't a clue. Now I realize that it is the sign of a master of the craft of writing to be able to cobble together a short story in a few thousand words or less--and some of Rash's stories are very short. But they pack a wallop.
Here's an example of Rash's brilliant and lyrical prose from his story, Shiloh--a brutal Civil War battle fought in Tennessee in April 1862--
"They knew from the massing of troops this was to be a battle, not a skirmish. That last morning their regiment had passed a Dunker church, beyond it a plowed field tended only by scarecrows. The braggarts and raw cobs spoke little now as the battle's racket encircled them like a noose. Officers rode back and forth on skittish horses. Those who'd gone before them littered the ground, so many Benjamin wondered if a single man yet survived. Soon they smelled gunpowder, watched its smoke drift toward them. More bodies appeared. Dobbins picked up a dirt clod, squeezed it. Habit, Benjamin thought, as Dobbins let the grains sift through his fingers. Good soil, Wray had asked. Not the best, Dobbins had answered, but I reckon it to cover our bodies enough."
This is the Appalachia of our country, these stories express the heart and soul of our American brothers and sisters. You'll find your family and friends in each and every one of these stories. Ron Rash chronicles what it is to be you, to be me, to be an American; and he does it with poetic lyricism. This is good stuff, folks!...more
Whoo-Whee! This is a novel that grabs you and does not let go. Maybe a little sappy, but we all want to experience a love affair like Harry and CatherWhoo-Whee! This is a novel that grabs you and does not let go. Maybe a little sappy, but we all want to experience a love affair like Harry and Catherine. Let me repeat--we all want to experience a love affair like that of Harry and Catherine. Having said that the rest of the novel is a love affair with the city of New York, and every bloody word is beautiful!
What can I say, this is such a terrific tale and one that deserves to be read by all. I have discovered a new author, and his name is Mark Helprin. This is literature, and literature at its very best. A good story that that just takes the reader deeper and deeper, just as intended. I'll be reading this one again!...more
A lyrical, enchanting and sweeping tale that was simply impossible to put down once I started reading. This is the story of a human life, the life ofA lyrical, enchanting and sweeping tale that was simply impossible to put down once I started reading. This is the story of a human life, the life of a young Italian, Alessandro, at the very beginning of the 20th century, learning to live and love with his family in Rome, mountain climbing in the Italian Alps, and then becoming a man on the battlefields of World War I. I don't quite know how to describe it, but there is something almost Tolstoyan in Helprin's wordcraft and the breadth and scope of this beautiful novel. It is elegant, nuanced and sophisticated, rich and inviting, and expresses the full gamut of human emotions and cannot help but evoke empathy in the reader. For those of you who are veterans, or have veterans in your family, this is book to read and savor, a novel to share. This is a classic, a novel that will be read by many one-hundred years, even two-hundred years from now. I know that this is a novel that I will be revisiting every few years for the rest of my life. Yes, it is just that good!...more
Phantasmagorical! Magical! Fabulous! This is a novel about the human (and, dare I say, the horse) spirit that tugs at the heart-strings on so many levPhantasmagorical! Magical! Fabulous! This is a novel about the human (and, dare I say, the horse) spirit that tugs at the heart-strings on so many levels. There is so much packed into this novel that should give every reader great pause and make each and every one of us stop and think about what family, friends, loyalty, love, and commitment mean to each of us. God, the magic in this book is simply uplifting and makes the spirit soar. If you are looking for a book that hits the "sweet-spot" and really can make you feel good, this is the novel for you. I think I'll read this book every winter for the rest of my life....more
I won't rate this novel...yet. I simply couldn't get into it. I tried and tried and tried. The husband and wife characters just didn't get under my skI won't rate this novel...yet. I simply couldn't get into it. I tried and tried and tried. The husband and wife characters just didn't get under my skin in a positive fashion, and ultimately I simply didn't care enough to find out what happened to them. Have I abandoned this book to the Goodwill or my local public library branch? Not yet. So, there is still a small (very small) part of me that says that I am likely to give Ms. Lepucki's novel one more chance. I just don't know when that will be....more
This was an excellent novel, and one that I largely did not put down until I'd finished it. While post-apocalyptic to be sure, there is a theme of HopThis was an excellent novel, and one that I largely did not put down until I'd finished it. While post-apocalyptic to be sure, there is a theme of Hope for Humanity woven through the novel that is entirely unexpected at first, and it is incredibly refreshing and innovative. The use of Shakespeare as a vehicle to bring us all back to our senses in a shell-shocked time and place is simply brilliant. There was just so much that I encountered in the plot and characters of this novel that just felt right to me. Emily St. John Mandel is a talented writer and I look forward to reading more of her work. This is a keeper, and a book I look forward to rereading....more
This is my seventh different translation of The Iliad that I have read over the past four or five years, and this one is a good one. It reads well andThis is my seventh different translation of The Iliad that I have read over the past four or five years, and this one is a good one. It reads well and feels like something you would really like to hear recited with a gathering of your friends around a large bonfire on a crisply cool fall night. The theme of the "rage of Achilles" is palpable at times, and the character of an aggressive Hector is perhaps more robust and muscular in this translation than some I've read.
Something that I think Powell's rendition does very well is footnote everything, saving the reader from flipping to the back of the poem. Additionally, he has included a great number of photographs of ancient Greek illustrated pottery that highlight events from The Iliad. Excellent maps and a superb glossary round out this edition and make it a keeper. I'm guessing that it has been formatted to be a college text, and I am guessing it will do well in that role. All in all is this a no-nonsense, quality translation of a timeless story that every human should read at least once in their lifetime....more
I started this little novel this morning on the train to work and then finished it about five minutes before I arrived home tonight. At little more thI started this little novel this morning on the train to work and then finished it about five minutes before I arrived home tonight. At little more than 300 pages, this novel packs a punch. While 'sparely' written--it has been described as 'prose Haiku'--every word has its place and significant meaning. No question, this is a meaningful novel and that is a very rare and beautiful thing in this day and age.
This is the story of 'Hig', his dog Jasper, and Bangley, a curmudgeonly survivalist. The thing is that the world that these three live in is not a world that we know. Some pandemic strain of flu virus has wiped out over 99.99% of the world's population of humans, and climate change has radically altered the environment of the central Rockies where Hig and Bangley have hunkered down. Also, there are some very mean, scary folks out there and Hig and Bangley have to continually maintain a diligent watch just to protect their own little world of 'normalcy'.
Hig is also a pilot and he has an old Cessna 182 that he lovingly cares for and flies around, protecting their area, and gathering up useful flotsam and jetsam that he and Bangley can use or eat. Jasper, his dog, is his co-pilot.
Really though, this is the story of a man on a journey from grief and despair to hope and something that may become a new start in a completely new world. Can Hig bury the ghosts from his past, and can he make peace with what it takes to survive in this new world and even make it better? Is Hig willing to risk all that he has created with Bangley to see if there is something else out there?
As I said, this is spare novel, incredibly well-crafted, and it simply begs to be scripted and filmed. And while there is the 'scent' of Cormac McCarthy in this novel, Peter Heller is clearly his own man with his own unique muse. It is certainly dystopian, but it is also not one jot formulaic. In fact, this novel almost feels elegiac with its short lines of dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter. Like Aeschylus and his brilliant triptych, The Oresteia, I think Heller is also telling us a future story of humanity; a story rich in pathos--and it is the experience of the character of Hig that we identify and bond with. Hig is you, Hig is me.
This is a popular novel now, but I firmly believe The Dog Stars will be read 100, even 200 years from now. I know that I will be reading this book again, off and on, for the rest of my life. I think there is much that this novel offers, and I'd like to continue to experience and appreciate this most amazing work that Peter Heller has gifted us with....more