The Nasty Bits is collection of essays written over the past several years - mostly dealing with food & traveling, but Bourdain also takes a swipeThe Nasty Bits is collection of essays written over the past several years - mostly dealing with food & traveling, but Bourdain also takes a swipe at "celebrity chefs", reminisces about the Good Old Bad New York and writes a rather charming Christmas story. The essays are gathered into 5 sections - Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Umami - with the short story at the end.
Bourdain pulls no punches & is still rather rough around the edges, tho part of me wonders how much of it is his "image". When he discussed kitchen techniques, I found myself making comparisons with the recent Pixar movie Ratatouillle.
Bourdain's writing is vivid and entertaining - even as a non-foodie, I found myself salivating over his descriptions of meals eaten around the world, tho I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to try them by myself. ...more
Not quite as engaging as Kurlansky and occasionally both a bit scattershot & repetitive; but still an interesting look at the history of food preNot quite as engaging as Kurlansky and occasionally both a bit scattershot & repetitive; but still an interesting look at the history of food preservation around the world, as well how history was influenced by the slowly improving technologies. ...more
The main character is the editor of Jaundiced Eye, a skeptic newsletter & affects a film noir detective attitude. His employee/love interest talksThe main character is the editor of Jaundiced Eye, a skeptic newsletter & affects a film noir detective attitude. His employee/love interest talks him into attending a public session with a channeler, who apparently has a little more going on than she thinks, as her normal "spirit guide" keeps getting interrupted by someone who seems to think it's all a load of hogwash.
I'm not sure this deserved a standalone publishing, as the story is only 99 pages. It was a nice light bit of reading, with the story twist inspiring me to delve a bit into another author's work....more
Revisiting this novel via audiobook & found myself wishing I'd re-read Bloodsucking Fiendsfirst; however, I got caListened to audiobook Oct 2011.
Revisiting this novel via audiobook & found myself wishing I'd re-read Bloodsucking Fiendsfirst; however, I got caught back up in Moore's saga of modern vampire love pretty quickly. The addition of Abby Normal was a hoot, and the narrator (Susan Bennett) does an an outstanding job with the character voices - she *nailed* Abby, and I really enjoyed William (the Huge Cat Guy)as well.
Not sure how I've missed out on Bite Me- will be adding that to the To-Read list next.
--------- Previously read Sep 2007
This novel picks up pretty much where Bloodsucking Fiends ends - Jody has turned Tommy to a vampire, and they seem to have Elijah, the vampire that started the whole thing, taken care of. They start to live their lives as best they can - recruiting goth chick Abby Normal as a new minion. However, The Animals start causing chaos with their new friend, a blue-skinned Vegas call girl.. and Elijah isn't out of the picture yet.
Both novels are pretty enjoyable - not quite parodies of the Anne Rice/Kelly Armstrong genre & but definitely poking a bit of fun. The characters are entertaining - the Emperor of San Francisco being one of my favorite recurring characters - and the plot moves along well with only a few quirks. ...more
Jody, a twenty-something, semi-Yuppie gal living in San Francisco wakes up in an alley after being assaulted.... her senses a Previously Read Oct 2003
Jody, a twenty-something, semi-Yuppie gal living in San Francisco wakes up in an alley after being assaulted.... her senses are heightened, her hand is burned (but healing exceptionally quickly) and she feels a strange hunger. She susses out fairly quickly, if unbelievingly, that she has been turned to a vampire, so she recruits a minion to do her bidding during the day.
She chooses Tommy - a 19 year old, naive writer wanna-be recently arrived from Indiana. He does night stocking at a grocery store with a group of guys called The Animals, who play a supporting role in both books. The novel follows Jody & Tommy's exploration of her new abilities, as well as tracking down the vampire who created her, who seems to be leaving bodies all over the greater San Francisco area and leading the police right to the couple.
Both this novel & its sequel You Suck are pretty enjoyable - not quite parodies of the Anne Rice/Kelly Armstrong genre & but definitely poking a bit of fun. The characters are entertaining - the Emperor of San Francisco being one of my favorite recurring characters - and the plot moves along well with only a few quirks. ...more
The only previous exposure (other than popular media) I'd had was the excellent (and sadly OOP) audiobook version of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, rThe only previous exposure (other than popular media) I'd had was the excellent (and sadly OOP) audiobook version of Haroun and the Sea of Stories, read by the author.
So far, this book a wide-ranging collection of essays, speeches & articles. Some have been more engaging than others (his look at the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was fascinating!), but I'm generally enjoying it & feel more comfortable about moving on to some of his fiction.
I did start feeling a bit of "fatwa fatigue" towards the middle/end of the book - tho one can hardly blame him for allowing a death threat to be the focus of his attention.... ...more
This fairly pulpish story of an alien uprising against their human colonizers was fairly entertaining, despite showing more than a whiff of White Man'This fairly pulpish story of an alien uprising against their human colonizers was fairly entertaining, despite showing more than a whiff of White Man's Burden.
The characters are on the cardboardish side, and Piper makes a bit too much of his female characters being capable despite their gender (actual publication date = 1952) Still, the aliens were interestingly presented, from a science/technical standpoint, and the plot kept my interest despite being read in bits & pieces over the course of a month or so. ...more
When he was young, Nazeem attended a special classroom for autistic children in the early 1980's; abouyt 20 years later, he contacted several former cWhen he was young, Nazeem attended a special classroom for autistic children in the early 1980's; abouyt 20 years later, he contacted several former classmates to spend time visiting/living with them to see how they are coping with the Real World. He also meets with the parents of a classmate, the head of the school and one of the teachers and hasvery meaningful conversations with all of them.
Not surprisingly - the writing tone is distant, almost clinical; yet Nazeem attempts to reflect on both his own emotions during the experience as well as those of his subjects, providing a valuable look at the mental processes of someone with high functioning autism. IMHO, Temple Grandin's (another autistic author) style is similar.
Nazeem discusses coping mechanisms such as "local coherence" performing a specific action over and over to provide a focus point when the situation becomes overwhelming. He finishes the book with general information on the condition itself - possible causes & treatments, as well as a discussion on whether autism is something that needs to be "cured".
Christopher Boone is a teenage autistic boy who is writing a story about the murder of a neighbor's dog, for which he was originally blamed. He livesChristopher Boone is a teenage autistic boy who is writing a story about the murder of a neighbor's dog, for which he was originally blamed. He lives with his father in Swindon and attends a special school, where he is looking forward to taking his A-levels in maths. Routines mean everything to him, and as he investigates the killing, imitating the logical style of Sherlock Holmes, he happens upon some unpleasant secrets, which are nearly impossible for him to comprehend emotionally.
Having Christopher be the narrator, with his simple, run-on sentences, provides a stream-of-consciousness style that makes it impossible not to empathize with him. I've read a biography of an autistic person (Temple Grandin) and it seems that Haddon has identified the mannerisms and written inner dialogue superbly. The story has its humorous moments, yet we are never laughing at Christopher, rather at his offbeat insights on the world.
Recommended to those looking for a semi-mystery written from a unique perspective.
I originally came across this novel while working at an all-girls Catholic school back in 1994. It was assigned reading for one of the classes, and asI originally came across this novel while working at an all-girls Catholic school back in 1994. It was assigned reading for one of the classes, and as I was helping get ready for the start-of-school book sale, I borrowed a used copy. I have since picked up the Kindle version and that's what I re-read.
Despite being written in 1940, and looking back at the turn of the century, I found myself identifying quite clearly with Francie at times. If I had read this book when I was her age, I would have absolutely adored it. (As an adult, I perhaps empathize more with her mother, Katie) Both women are wonderfully well-drawn as they live their lives in the slums of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Francie knows she is poor, yet it is not the core of her being; her imagination and the books she checks out from the library provide a welcome escape. She loves and admires her father desperately, even as he continually fails as the ostensible head of the household. Her relationship with her younger brother, Neeley also rings true (though my younger brother is 5 years separate, not just 2).
The word pictures Smith paints of daily life in Francie's Brooklyn neighborhood are rich and detailed - with side characters each playing their parts. The novel is an immersive look at a time and place that left its stamp on our country's history; but it also takes an occasionally critical look at The American Dream, and the conclusions written between the lines are as valid today as in 1940. The writing is superb, IMHO - perhaps slightly dated in someways, and yet timeless. I can see why it was selected as assigned reading for the classroom, and I wish I had encountered it earlier in my life. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in strong female characters set in turn of the century New York City....more
I had started Running With Scissors earlier this week & finished it last night. When my mom loaned it to me, she said "It's kind of .... rough ...I had started Running With Scissors earlier this week & finished it last night. When my mom loaned it to me, she said "It's kind of .... rough .... in places." I replied "David SedarisBarrel Fever rough?" (a recent read we had shared)& she agreed.
IMHO - it's rougher than that in 1 or 2 places - (TMI sex scenes), but what really bothered me about Augusten's relationship was the age differential. Dr. Finch's behaviour and the absolute squalor of their house really skeeved me out as well.
The comparison with David Sedaris is apt - but I didn't see the same kind of humor at all. "When things get that awful, you have to laugh" (a quote from Philip Lopate on the back of the book). While this book was a compelling read , it was also ultimately pretty damn depressing ... I think I'll return to the sci-fi ghetto for awhile. ...more
It was a pretty fun read - I wonder if you could tie the macho/homoerotic atmosphere to the Hispanic culture of so many of the staff. That kind of surIt was a pretty fun read - I wonder if you could tie the macho/homoerotic atmosphere to the Hispanic culture of so many of the staff. That kind of surprised me (both the fact that so many of the staffers were Central/South American and the grabass horseplay.) The description of a lot of the dishes just kind of went over my head - he used a lot of terms that he expected his readers to be familiar with. ...more
heard an interview with Steven Levitt on the On Point radio show sometime last month, and was intrigued enough to check out Freakonomics from the librheard an interview with Steven Levitt on the On Point radio show sometime last month, and was intrigued enough to check out Freakonomics from the library.
The chapter headings are a bit full of praise for the author, but once you get into the meat of the book, the questions Levitt asks are intriguing, if a bit bizarre. How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents? -- They both deal in information that loses its value if shared with the public. How are school teachers like sumo wrestlers? The incentive to cheat can be very high.
The chapters on crime and parenting are likely to be the most controversial - citing abortion as the cause of the decline in crime in the late 1990's and the conclusion that who you are matters more than what you do when it comes to raising successful children. The last section deals with baby names: how "high-class" names are eventually co-opted by the lower class, and the "whitest" and "blackest" names of the last decade or so.
I think the Levitt bowed down a little too much to popular taste in this book - the writing was accessible and lively, and the research notes seem adequate, but I just got a feeling of occasionally skimming across the surface of something that deserved additional exploring. He admits in the foreword that the book has no overarching theme... and perhaps it should have. Hopefully, he'll follow up on some of these questions in a more in-depth book later in their careers.
Recommended to those looking for some light, quirky non-fiction to use as a starting point for thought/discussion.
Notes & Quotes
"But he [Leavitt] has merely distilled the so-called 'dismal science' [economics] to its most primal aim: explaining how people get what they want."
Risk = hazard + outrage - explains why guns in a child's household are more frightening than a swimming pool - although pool deaths outnumber shootings by 100:1.
"Most little girls, I think, grow up with the instinctive understanding that we have the power to direct the way the world sees us."
A semi-memoir, com"Most little girls, I think, grow up with the instinctive understanding that we have the power to direct the way the world sees us."
A semi-memoir, combined with reviews and recipes, Reichl starts the book with her decision to take the food critic position at the New York Times, after a successful & satisfying run at the Los Angeles Times. She quickly discovers the need to go "undercover" when reviewing some of the most famous restaurants in New York. As she creates different personas (with help from some talented friends), she discovers new aspects of herself, both positive and negative. The section where she disguises herself as her very particular mother and lunches at the Four Seasons is both amusing and touching.
Reichl's writing, both in this book and in the reviews she reprints is immensely entertaining and I'm looking forward to reading some of her other books: Tender at the Bone & Comfort Me with Apples. You don't need to be a foodie to appreciate her writing, trust me! I imagine a familiarity with New York City would be helpful. however. I do wish I'd copied down a couple of the simpler recipes; I got a kick out of her description of spaghetti carbonara: "...bacon & eggs with pasta instead of toast."
I heard an interview with the author on the Diane Rhem show back in March 2003 & checked to see if the library had the book.
This boBought Oct 2007
I heard an interview with the author on the Diane Rhem show back in March 2003 & checked to see if the library had the book.
This book follows the development of the 1893 World's Fair and the murderous spree of one of America's first serial killers, Herman Webster Mudgett (aka H.H. Holmes) both occurring in the burgeoning city of Chicago. Larson alternates between the two narratives more or less a chapter at a time. The writing is superb, bringing to life the world at the turn of the century. It is also well-researched, with an extensive Notes and Bibliography section.
I'd read a little about Holmes before, in the graphic novel The Big Book of Bad by Paradox Press. I also knew a little bit about the 1893 World's Fair - that the Ferris wheel had made its debut at the fair, as did shredded wheat and "Little Egypt", the belly dancer What I didn't know was how the Fair very nearly didn't happen, due to political pressure, a financial panic and the whims of the weather. I also learned about the extensive detective work of Frank P. Geyer who started tracking down Holmes based on insurance fraud, not multiple murders, and how the trail at one point led very close to where I currently live!
For anyone with an interest in turn of the century history and/or stories about serial killers - I would recommend reading this book. A minor drawback was the lack of pictures - I would have enjoyed seeing some of the buildings in more detail than the half-dozen or so photos included....more
Once again, I wish I'd read the previous books in the series more recently than I have; I'm not terribly lost, but there's bits & pieces that I feOnce again, I wish I'd read the previous books in the series more recently than I have; I'm not terribly lost, but there's bits & pieces that I feel I'm missing. Also, being from the other side of the pond, I'm sure there's humour/in-jokes (Swindon?) that I'm not getting, either.
Maybe someday I can be a Jurisfiction agent, too... or at least a part one of the more interesting SpecOps. ...more