Time is of the essence, people! On March 1st, a petition will be submitted, proposing the creation of a postage stamp in honor of Charles Bukowski. In case you need a reason to add your voice to the chorus, I'll share a personal story that will most likely make me look like an enormous nerd. Back in high school, I was a formalist, loved poetry with rhyme and meter, and wrote my own verses that way. But when I hit 17, I found myself chafing under the constraints of scansion. I discovered Bukowski's "Bluebird" and never looked back. I still love a good sonnet, but there was something about the accessibility of Bukowski, the simplicity and grittiness, that helped me cull my own experiences and write more honestly. If you love his work as much as I do, sign your name to the petition. And don't miss Ecco's latest posthumous collection, The Continual Condition.
I can remember the first time I ate escargot like it was yesterday (it was in 2006). The snails were pleasantly toothsome, garlicky, and flecked with parsley. They were from Les Halles-- the restaurant where Anthony Bourdain made a name for himself before Kitchen Confidential became a runaway bestseller, and before his show No Reservationsmade him a foodie icon. What followed the escargot was a dish of summer coq au vin, a bottle of bourdeaux for the table, creme brulee, and a glass of muscat. As you can tell, Les Halles made quite an impression on me. That experience, combined with Bourdain's vocal support of Papaya King, caused him to become my celebrity crush for the next few years. So you can imagine my unabashed (but totally not creepy) excitement when I found out we're slated to publish the follow-up to Kitchen Confidential: Medium Raw. Yesterday on Grub Street, Bourdain answered some questions about the new book, which will discuss culinary heavyweights like David Chang, Eric Ripert, Alice Waters, and Thomas Keller. For more information, as well as the debut of the cover art, check out the catalog page. Hungry yet?
If you haven't heard of the sinister phenomenon known as the 'Turkey Drop,' I am here to inform you. Jezebel (courtesy of NPR) tells us that the 'Turkey Drop' is a break-up which occurs after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, most commonly seen among college freshmen. The 'Turkey Drop' is a break-up which is catalyzed partially, or mostly, by the stress of the holidays. It's only a rock-solid relationship that can withstand the barrage of drunken relatives, embarrassing family anecdotes, holiday weight-gain, and table-side political arguments. If you, or a loved one, is the victim of a Turkey Drop, here are two books that might soften the blow in ways sweet potato pie cannot:
If you like your romantic debacles in poetry form, do yourself a favor and check out my co-worker Lauren's blog, Bad Date Lemonade. When Lauren isn't writing missives on course adoptions and processing desk copy requests, she posts haikus, sonnets, and free verse inspired by traumatic dating experiences. As a bonus, if you can spot which poem is mine (names have been changed) I'll give you your choice of the two books I just mentioned.
Short of bad sex itself, is there anything worse than a bad sex scene? Luckily for us, the UK's Literary Review has come up with this year's shortlist for the worst sex scene of 2009. (Just a sidenote, I love how The Guardian wrote about the "stiff competition.") Anyway, the shortlist is out, and author Sarah Duncan is blogging about the difficulty of writing good sex scenes: passages that transport you, arouse you, and/or deal with the logistics of making love successfully. My highbrow choice is this excerpt from Lady Chatterley's Lover. My low-brow choice is one steamy sex-act in a stairwell from Linda Howard's Son of the Morning. What's your favorite sex scene in literature? Don't worry, I won't judge.
Chances are, if you have a television or work outside your home, you have seen quite a bit of Sarah Palin this week. One thing I bet you haven't seen is her likeness in cookie form. Prepare to have your mind blown by the photo below.
I’m the first person to admit I am addicted to cooking. I am, dare I say it, obsessed. I cook, and bake, and talk nonstop about what I’m cooking and baking. I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing about my latest pesto adventure, or how an undercooked loaf of pumpkin bread actually made me cry. One time I was making caramel and it seized up, hardening prematurely, and I freaked out…but that’s another story for another day.
I attended an AAP Seminar last week, and we were talking about how the cookbook market is seeing a lot of growth among 20somethings. Why do you think that is? The last few years have seen Top Chef, Iron Chef America, Chow, Eater, Grub Street, dessert trucks, and hot-shot chefs with anger management issues…Food has become a part of popular culture where it wasn’t before. Maybe it’s that third wave feminism told women that we should have the option of getting back in the kitchen, for fun and not as housewives. Maybe it’s just a cultural fad that will gradually shift out of style again…I have no idea.
I'm pretty sure you've heard a lot about this title and for good reason: Dubner and Levitt deal with some controversial topics in this follow-up to their previous blockbuster, Freakonomics. Lauren (@harperacademic) and I were lucky enough to snag tickets to their author talk at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side, and rest assured, this dynamic duo does not disappoint. Dubner and Levitt were fast-talking, witty, and thoughtful (it doesn't hurt that they have enough of an Odd Couple-esque rapport to star in their own sitcom).
Superfreakonomics deals with subjects as varied as global warming, drunk walking, crime and altruism, and is informative without being dry, or difficult to get through. If you're going to pick up a nonfiction book this week, I recommend this one. My favorite chapter, "How is a Street Prostitute Like a Department Store Santa?" deals with what Dubner and Levitt term "the various costs of being a woman." Maybe my mind's in the gutter, but I found it to be extraordinarily interesting stuff. But really, the reason I wrote this post was to ask you, dear commenters, the following question: what do you think? Would you read Superfreakonomics? If you have read it, what did you think? Has it earned the media controversy? Leave your thoughts below.
Time to get negative, everybody! Over on Jezebel they're talking about "sacred cows" of film, television, pop culture, and literature...works that we are loath to admit we despise, even when we really, truly, do. For example, Sadie admits to hating Ferris Bueller's Day Off--definitely a controversial statement among the late 20s crowd. So I'm asking you, readers, to give me your best example of a classic novel you (for whatever reason) can't stand. Maybe you hated the extra chapters in Moby Dick on blubber, maybe you think Jane Austen is dry, maybe you couldn't get through A Farewell to Arms because Hemingway's blatant misogyny offended you (cough cough)...either way, send me your most-loathed classic novels and we'll discuss.
Here in New York publishers are celebrating a hectic season of Fall releases. With that in mind, I've taken to calling September "The Month of the Book Party." One of the highlights was last week's launch party for Death Becomes Them (9780061728563) by Alix Strauss. 675 Hudson, a cave-like space in the Meatpacking District, was arrayed with morbidly fun touches, from themed playlists (lots of Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain) to drinks like the 'Virginia Woolf,' which was garnished with a swedish fish to symbolize her drowning. It was definitely an event to remember. Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the Notorious delivers a fond farewell to some of the most important figures of our society, from Hunter S. Thompson to Diane Arbus. I found the details of the suicides fascinating, especially the chapter on Anne Sexton, one of my all-time favorite poets, who drank vodka and decked herself in her mother's fur before turning the car's ignition on. Death Becomes Them is an important look at the artists, writers, actors, and political figures of our day, as well as the way our final end can imitate the way in which we lived. For more info, check out the video and browse inside the book.