Wednesday, October 26, 2011


There's a reason it's been years since I went to play pool. I'm terrible at math.

I've always suspected you needed to know something about geometry to be a decent pool player. However, for the heroine of Something Rising by Haven Kimmel, the game turns on physics. And hours of practice.

Every morning Cassie heads to the local bar and practices for three hours. There she doesn't have to worry that her dad has abandoned her. She can escape her mother musing about how her life could have been had she stayed in New Orleans. She can avoid her sister who feels more comfortable traveling to Ancient Greece than to the local supermarket.

After her mom dies, Cassie leaves Indiana for the first time and travels to New Orleans. There she discovers kind strangers and mean pool players. Picturing her mom's past, she has an eye for her own future.

What makes this a fascinating read is not the geometry or physics of the game. It's the chemistry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Some Amazonian kinkajous compiled this "personal" list for me. I like it.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

Love's Exquisite Freedom by Maya Angelou

Zombies vs Robots: The Undercity HC by Chris Ryall

Absolute Sandman Vol. 5 by Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blood, Bones, and Butter

Every time I open a bag of tortilla chips, I'd love to reach for the homemade salsa we ate on our front porch in Woodburn. When it rains, I'd cry for the pan dulce we tried in Cuernavaca. Once I'm wandering hopelessly down the wine aisle in Kroger, I'd give anything to be drinking that wine poured in Due Santi.

I'm not alone in wanting to relive these food memories. There's a chapter in Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter where she makes a list. Among other experiences to savor in her new restaurant, she wants to dress the table in brown butcher paper, Cuban wedding china, and plates of her mother's recipe for veal marrow.

An accomplished chef, Hamilton has perfected the veal marrow. More importantly she has perfected the art of writing about it. She has pared her memories down to the essence. She takes us back to her first kitchen - her French mother's domain. She walks us through the drudgery of her early catering jobs. Finally, she travels to Italy and introduces us to her mother-in-law's Italian market.

Hamilton's reflection on her own childhood has inspired me to serve my children something more substantial than a reheated chicken nugget; we've been trying to be a little more adventurous. Perhaps one day they'll remember eating Mutsu apples they've just picked, spreading cherry jelly on their breakfast muffin, or sipping hot ginger-lemon tea on a cold, windy autumn day in Michigan. If they don't, I will.