Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Doritos are Flammable

George moves to Des Moines, meets the crush of his life (and her sister), and wrestles. Off the mat, he grapples with his feelings for Emily. Meanwhile Emily's little sister Katie gifts him with homemade comics and promises him a time capsule.

Upon opening the pages of Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter, the reader also slips into a high school time capsule (if you were born in or around 1976). Emily scores an extra spot on the set of The Bridges of Madison County and George rollerblades. But as the title portends, life is not all sappy adultery and hockey.

Michael J. White's debut blazes, but it might leave you with a peculiar orange residue of images and conversations not easily rinsed away.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I'll admit it. The thought of time-travel boggles my mind. So it was with some trepidation (years after hearing of this book) that I finally sat down with The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

I first knew I was in trouble when I realized each section of the novel begins with the day, month, and year as well as the ages of the two main characters. For example, the book opens in 1991 when Henry is 28 and Clare is 20. They are meeting after a two-year absence. Clare hasn't seen Henry since she was 18. Henry hasn't seen Clare since he was 36.

Here's where the title of this post comes in. If you need to go grab some Advil, I'll wait.

Better? Yes, initially the dates and ages gave me a headache, too. But persevere, suspend disbelief, and you too will be enthralled. (I'm not alone in this. Praise for this book takes up the first three pages. My favorite of which is "dizzyingly romantic.")

We read backward into the early days of courtship. We leap forward into the troubled years of marriage. We're taken back again into Henry's childhood and forward into Clare's old age. Then we are back again to discover the first physical strains of time-travel and look forward hopefully for a cure.

And if nothing else of the above compels you to open the pages, I'll just have to leave you with one other detail. One of Henry's "cures" for preventing unwanted disappearances from the present is sex.

It's worth the wait.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eating My Words

Remember that post about Julie and Julia? And how I skimmed over the parts about Julia Child?

"Abashedly," after seeing the movie, I realized I had missed out on the best part. To remedy the situation I turned to Child’s My Life in France (written with Alex Prud'homme). Part diary, part travelogue, part expat handbook, the account begins in 1948 and concludes with her later years in Provence.

While Powell sticks mainly to the story of Child's first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child in My Life in France has documented her work on both volumes. In addition, she takes us behind the scenes of her cooking show. Of her later years, she ruminates on fame and the necessity of having a hide-away. She and Paul find respite in a small house near Simca's (her writing partner Simone Beck).

Child relies not only on her own memories, but spices it up with bits and pieces of correspondence from friends and family. Her "hold yer hat" husband Paul provides some of the most delightful excerpts while proving that those emails and texts will probably not stand the test of time when it comes to jotting down your own memoir.

So for this Valentine's Day, cook up a rich meal, write a long love letter (with a pen), or pick up this sweetheart of a tale.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just barely

made it through January. A spate of bad luck, starting a new semester, and winter doldrums all worked in conspiracy against posting anything new. Starting with a flaming vacuum and a jammed computer drive and ending with a wild dog attack, January wasn't my month.

And then I found out I was selected by What Not To Wear to receive a makeover after my sisters compiled months of footage of dowdily clad me.

Well, no, but that is one of my greatest fears. To stave off that inevitability, I picked up Just Try it On: A Month-by-Month Guide to Shopping and Style by Susan Redstone. Then I remembered why I opt for the same yoga pants and fleece every day. My day-wear works whether I'm waiting at the Toyota dealership, the ER, or running from rabid dogs. The slightly worn "extras" I'm supposed to include in my fashion emergency kit are already on my back.

At least I tried.

And though there's a slim chance I could appear on the above named TLC favorite, there's no chance that I would ever appear on the show hosted by the subject of Just Desserts.

Just Desserts - Martha Stewart: The Unauthorized Biography by Jerry Oppenheimer dishes the dirt and deflates the souffle. Guiltily I admit it was a fun read. I learned Stewart had a ghost writer for her Entertaining books and worked as a stock broker with Brian Dennehy.Oh, and they also dated after her divorce, according to Oppenheimer. Desserts was written before her prison debacle, but the inside look into her Kmart campaign and launch of her magazine is an intriguing place to end. But just.