Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tor Nightfire: Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster

Quotation of the Day

Future of Books: 'A Lot of Opportunities in the Unstable Zone'

"I’m really concerned about it. And nobody knows where it's going--particularly in terms of the relationship of the Internet to the print media. But writing isn't going to go away. There's a big shake-up--the thing that comes to mind is that it's like in a basketball game or a lacrosse game when the ball changes possession and the whole situation is unstable. But there's a lot of opportunities in the unstable zone. We're in that kind of zone with the Internet. But it's just unimaginable to me that writing itself would die out. OK, so where is it going to go? It's a fluid force: it'll come up through cracks, it'll go around corners, it'll pour down from the ceiling. And I would have counseled anybody ten, twenty, and thirty years ago the same thing I'm saying right now, which is, as a young writer, you should think about writing a book. I don't think books are going to go away."--John McPhee, in a Paris Review interview earlier this year.  


Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot


Image of the Day: Fundraisers

Last Thursday and Friday five authors held fundraising events in Washington State, one for the Kitsap Regional Library and another for the Mona Foundation. The authors were (from l.): Jose Brown, author of Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives; Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters; Joshilyn Jackson, author of Backseat Saints; Jane Smiley, author of Private Life; and Eileen Goudge, author of Once in a Blue Moon. With them, at r.: Suzanne Droppert, owner of Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash.



Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

Notes: Obscenity Law Win in Oregon; B&N Dealt Proxy Blow

Oregon's obscenity law was ruled unconstitutional yesterday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that two statutes criminalizing the distribution of sex education and other non-obscene materials to minors are in violation of the First Amendment.

Bookselling This Week reported that despite the state's argument the law applied only to hardcore pornography, "the court found that the statutes also applied to titles commonly sold at general bookstores, such as The Joy of Sex, Kentaro Miura’s manga Berserk, Judy Blume’s Forever, and Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. The plaintiffs, who included area booksellers, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and others, did not challenge Oregon’s existing law making it a crime to contact a minor with the intent of having sexual contact."

"This is an important victory permitting readers--both younger and older--to obtain what they are constitutionally entitled to read," said Michael Powell of Powell’s Books, a plaintiff in the case. "It is also a victory for booksellers who do not want to ask 13-year-olds for identification or risk going to jail for selling a Judy Blume book."

Other booksellers challenging the statutes included Portland's Annie Bloom's Books and St. Johns Booksellers; Paulina Springs Books, with stores in Sisters and Redmond; and Colette's Good Food + Hungry Minds, North Bend.


In a blow to Barnes & Noble and the Riggio family, proxy-advisory firm Institutional Shareholders Services has recommended B&N shareholders vote for the three board of director candidates nominated by insurgent shareholder Ron Burkle and for the anti-poison pill proposal in next week's proxy battle.

"Based on [Barnes & Noble's] deteriorating operating performance, poor shareholder return, less-than-enthusiastic analyst recommendations, inadequate transparency... we believe the dissidents have demonstrated a compelling case that change in the BKS board is warranted," I.S.S. observed.

The Wall Street Journal called the recommendation a blow to B&N chairman Leonard Riggio's efforts to stave off Burkle's efforts to alter the board because "the deciding vote probably lies with institutional shareholders and index funds. That means the recommendation by I.S.S., the largest and most influential proxy advisory firm that has institutional investors as its client, could play a key role in determining the outcome of the Barnes & Noble proxy fight."

The New York Times noted that the I.S.S. report "also pointed to Barnes & Noble’s stock slide as another impetus for change. Shares in the company have tumbled 28.9 percent in the last year. An analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded Barnes & Noble to 'underperform' last week, arguing that the company’s digital strategy faced major challenges from wealthier rivals like and Apple."

In a statement, a Yucaipa representative said, "We are gratified that I.S.S. agrees with us that the challenges facing Barnes & Noble require the independent leadership and experience Yucaipa’s three highly-qualified nominees will bring to the Board."

B&N, which had recently won the support of two smaller proxy advisers--Glass Lewis & Company and Egan-Jones--countered that it was disappointed by the I.S.S. recommendation: "Glass Lewis and Egan-Jones clearly recognized that Mr. Burkle has offered no positive ideas, plan or strategy to build value, and that his proposal to weaken the Shareholder Rights Plan should be rejected because it could enable him to form a control bloc with Aletheia without providing shareholders the premium they deserve. While I.S.S. has a track record of supporting dissidents, we believe its analysis is flawed and not in the best interest of our shareholders."


Known and Unknown will be the title of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's memoir, scheduled to be published January 25, 2011. The Wall Street Journal noted that the title acknowledges one of Rumsfeld's best known quotations, from a 2002 news conference: "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns--the ones we don’t know we don’t know."

Adrian Zackheim, the publisher of Penguin imprint Sentinel, said the book "pulls no punches" and "delivers everything I was hoping for and much more."


Cool idea of the day. At Half Price Books, Dallas Tex., customers will be able to top off their batteries while wandering the stacks. The Morning News reported that the bookstore's flagship location on Northwest Highway is installing a public charging station for electric vehicles and plans to "let customers use the stations for free until next September, when executives will decide whether to charge. Half Price buys renewable electricity from Green Mountain Energy." Since the charger is relatively slow, "the idea is to change consumer thinking about refueling, from waiting next to the vehicle to just leaving the car plugged in while shopping."

"We're thinking lunch hour, when they come and shop anyway. We'll give them a basket, too," said Becky Gomez, promotions manager for Half Price Books, which sees the public charging station as a way to complement the company's green image.


Obituary note: Jill Johnston, "a longtime cultural critic for the Village Voice whose daring, experimental prose style mirrored the avant-garde art she covered and whose book Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution spearheaded the lesbian separatist movement of the early 1970s," died last Saturday, the New York Times reported. She was 81.


"Hockey moms" and "bromance" are among the 2,000 new words, phrases, and meanings that have found their place in the latest edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary, the Guardian reported. Text messaging abbreviations TTYL, BFF and LMAO also made the cut.


Yes, that's author John Scalzi "as a greenish, ax-wielding Orc" and actor/writer Wil Wheaton, "wearing the evil-clown sweater, astride a winged unicorn kitten," featured on the cover of Clash of the Geeks. The Los Angeles Times reported that the downloadable chapbook is part of a charity drive to benefit the Lupus Alliance of America, and "all the contributions to the book, including stories by Scalzi and Wheaton, are based on the image." Although the book is technically a free download, donations are encouraged.

"We don't have a particular sum in mind to raise, and speaking from experience of having done several charitable writing projects, results really are all over the board," Scalzi said.  "We'll be happy with whatever we get. But off the top of my head I'll say this: If we eventually raise $25,000, I'll consider this a successful project. If we raise $50k, I'll feel like King of the Internet."


Suggesting "7 Books for the Spiritually Starved," the Daily Beast's Spencer Bailey wrote  that the U.S. "remains in search of age-old answers to difficult questions. Answers that Elizabeth Gilbert’s cultish Eat Pray Love, with its bankruptcy-inducing ideals, cannot provide. Answers that several recently published books about religion and spirituality--and a few set for release this fall--attempt, or at least hope, to get at."


The very long longlist of 125 videos (culled from 23,000 online submissions) in the Guggenheim Museum's "YouTube Play, A Biennial of Creative Video" contest includes Tiffany Shlain’s Yelp, "a 21st-century update of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl ("I saw the best minds of my generation distracted by texting, e-mailing, tweeting...), the New York Times wrote.


Flight of the e-books? "Will airlines begin to offer e-books on flights the way they offer movies?" asked MediaBistro's eBookNewser blog. "There are a number of ways that it could work. Perhaps you could sign in to an existing Amazon or Barnes & Noble account and access your digital bookshelf directly. Or perhaps the airline could sell bestsellers or short stories directly. Think Atlantic Fiction’s monthly short stories in the Kindle store. It could also be a great place for publishers to market their books and give away sample chapters. I like to catch up on new music videos on Virgin’s entertainment system, so why not read a couple of chapters from a few new bestsellers to decide which ones I might actually like to buy and read."


Tolkien's women and the Tea Party. The Guardian reported that in a 2003 essay, Delaware's controversial Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell wrote that "Tolkien critics have accused the creator of Middle Earth of being anti-woman, even archaic, when viewed through today's politically correct lens of gender roles. Some critics claim that Tolkien's serene version of femininity is offensive to the modern female viewer. As a modern female viewer, I find the assumption itself offensive. Just because women can be warriors doesn't mean they have to be. Everything about Tolkien's Arwen is tranquil, serene, calming. These qualities are part of the charm of the womanhood she expresses. There are many types of women in the world. Arwen represents one of them. She represents a pillar of calm that is a source of strength for her man. Her great contribution to the war is the strength she provides to the future king."


Book trailer of the day: The Neighbors Are Watching by Debra Ginsberg (Crown).


Dawn Rennert has joined the Concord Bookshop, Concord, Mass., as community relations coordinator, a new position. She blogs on She Is Too Fond of Books, tweets as @TooFondOfBooks and is an associate member of the National Book Critics Circle. At Concord Bookshop, she will use social technology and social media to extend the geographical reach of the store and work closely with the local community. Assistant store manager Jill Wassong said that Rennert "will increase our reach by creating awareness campaigns and helping us to bring unique opportunities and events to our community."


Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani

PubWest's Jack D. Rittenhouse Award Goes to Boehm

PubWest has selected Eric H. Boehm as the recipient of the 2010 Jack D. Rittenhouse Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the book community in the West.

During his publishing career, Boehm and his late wife, Inge, founded and established ABC-CLIO in Europe in 1955 and moved the company to Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1960. In the mid-1980s an office was established in Denver, Colo. Boehm's studies in international relations and his experiences during World War II led him to launch Historical Abstracts in 1955 as a way to share historical writings worldwide, using scholarship to help bring the world back together.

"As one of the founders of ABC-CLIO, a publisher of bibliographic databases and reference books, Mr. Boehm’s 50-year publishing career is remarkable in itself and more than enough to qualify him to receive this honor," said PubWest board president Todd Berge. "But his personal story as a Jewish teenager escaping Nazi Germany in 1934; his work as the interpreting officer in the prosecution of Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel during the Nuremberg Trials; his publication of We Survived, a collection of personal stories of survival in Nazi Germany; and his completion of a Ph.D. in international relations at Yale all contribute to Mr. Boehm's incredible personal and professional journey from a boy in Hitler's Germany to publisher of award-winning reference works, academic and general interest books, digital resources, and professional development publications and programs for librarians and educators."

The award will be presented November 6 at PubWest's annual conference in Santa Fe, N.M.


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Four Treasures of the Sky
by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui ZhangDaiyu, named after a tragic heroine, is the young protagonist of Jenny Tinghui Zhang's stunning debut novel, Four Treasures of the Sky, a work of historical fiction set in the 1880s. Daiyu happily follows a stranger when he promises her a full belly, but instead of feeding her noodles, he smuggles her from China to California, where she begins a dizzying journey that fuses folklore and history with a masterful eloquence. "There's still a strong bias toward thinking of the lone cowboy as the quintessential symbol of the West," says Flatiron senior editor Caroline Bleeke, who quickly fought to preempt the book after reading an early manuscript. "But that elides the experiences of everyone else, particularly women and POC." A book to sit alongside Yaa Gyasi's Homecoming and Anna North's Outlawed, this is a powerful tale of reclamation, spun with soul by a remarkable new talent. --Lauren Puckett

(Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 9781250811783, April 5, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mark Bittman on the Today Show

This morning on the Today Show: Tori Spelling, author of Presenting… Tallulah, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton (Aladdin/S&S, $16.99, 978141994046/1416994041). She will also appear today on the View.


Today on Fresh Air: David Rakoff, author of Half Empty (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385525244/0385525249).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Robert Gottlieb, author of Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt (Yale University Press, $25, 9780300141276/0300141270).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Mark Bittman, author of The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781439120231/1439120234).


Tomorrow morning on Live with Regis and Kelly: Tim Gunn, author of Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work (Gallery, $23.99, 9781439176566/1439176566).


Tomorrow on Morning Joe: Steven Rattner, author of Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry (Houghton Mifflin, $27, 9780547443218/0547443218). He will also appear today on CNBC's Power Lunch.


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Jeff Sharlet, author of C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy (Little, Brown, $26.99, 9780316091077/0316091073).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Ingrid Betancourt, author of Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594202650/1594202656).

Also on Oprah tomorrow: Jenny McCarthy, author of Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance (Harper, $24.99, 9780062012982/0062012983).


Tomorrow the Diane Rehm Show's Readers' Review focuses on The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Picador, $16, 9780312421274/0312421273).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Guillermo del Toro, author of The Fall: Book Two of the Strain Trilogy (Morrow, $26.99, 9780061558221/0061558222).


Television: My Formerly Hot Life

"Book adaptations continued their hot streak this buying season with another TV deal," according to, which reported that ABC has acquired the rights to Stephanie Dolgoff's memoir My Formerly Hot Life "for a potential half-hour single-camera series. Helmer Julie Anne Robinson is attached to direct and executive produce, while Dolgoff and Christy Fletcher and Rebecca Gradinger of Fletcher & Co. will co-exec produce."

Dolgoff's blog-turned-book offers "a comedic look at the good, the bad, and the ugly moments in a woman's life as she adjusts to the realization that she is no longer forever 21."

The acquisition is part of a "slew of book-to-series adaptation this season," including ABC projects based on Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides and on Kim Gatlin's Good Christian Bitches.


Movies: Firelight

Mandalay Pictures has acquired the screen rights to the recently published YA novel Firelight, the first in a three-book series by Sophie Jordan, Variety reported, adding that the "Harper Teen book was one of the five selected by the YA Editor's Buzz Panel at Book Expo America in May."

Variety also noted that Mandalay's recent literary acquisitions have included Horns by Joe Hill, the upcoming Machine Man by Max Barry and Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg.


Theater: Catch Me if You Can

Catch Me if You Can, a Broadway musical version of Steven Spielberg's 2002 film--which was adapted from the book Catch Me if You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Stan Redding and Frank W. Abagnale--"will arrive in New York in the spring, with preview performances starting on March 7, 2011, and an opening night of April 10," the New York Times reported. Jack O’Brien will direct and the choreographer is Jerry Mitchell. Catch Me's music is by Marc Shaiman, with lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. They also collaborated on Hairspray with O’Brien and Mitchell. The book is by the playwright Terrence McNally.


Books & Authors

Awards: Frank O'Connor; Giller Longlist

Burning Bright by Ron Rash won the €35,000 (US$45,740) Frank O'Connor award for a collection of short fiction, the Guardian reported.

"I guess I know how it feels to win a beauty pageant now," said Rash. "It was a great feeling, a real honor. I write novels and poems as well but the short story is my favorite form."

Judge Nadine O'Regan, called the book "technically absolutely beautiful--incredibly well-wrought. It's a very understated collection of short stories in many respects. He tends to compress an awful lot into his sentences, and says an awful lot in a very distilled way. It's a bleak collection, very bleak, but he has such attention to detail and is a real storyteller, a real craftsman."


With the announcement of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the National Post reported that "it has become tradition to study the nominees and then develop some type of diagnosis, like a doctor taking the temperature of Canada’s literary firmament. There’s too many men! There’s too few short story collections! The list is dominated by the big presses! Where are the poets?"

This year's group, however, is "a fairly balanced affair, featuring six men and seven women, a mix of CanLit veterans and newcomers, a couple of short story collections, and a good showing by the small presses." The Giller Prize longlist includes:

The Matter With Morris by David Bergen (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins)
Player One by Douglas Coupland (House of Anansi Press)
Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm (McClelland & Stewart)
Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod (Biblioasis)
The Debba by Avner Mandelman (Other Press/Random House of Canada)
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (Dial/Random House of Canada)
This Cake Is For The Party by Sarah Selecky (Thomas Allen Publishers)
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Gaspereau Press)
Lemon by Cordelia Strube (Coach House Books)
Curiosity by Joan Thomas (McClelland & Stewart)
Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart (McClelland & Stewart)
Cool Water by Dianne Warren (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins)
Annabel by Kathleen Winter (House of Anansi Press)

The shortlist will be announced October 5, and the $50,000 prize awarded at a ceremony November 9.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, September 27 and 28:

Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781439172490/1439172498) explores the reasons behind the president's wartime policy decisions and uses first-hand accounts.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary
by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $21.99, 9780316038393/0316038393) is a collection of humorous stories with animal themes.

Don't Blink by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316036238/0316036234) follows a reporter's investigation into a high profile mob hit.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett (Dutton, $36, 9780525951650/0525951652) is the first part of a historical fiction trilogy about several families and their connections to events of the 20th century.

By Nightfall: A Novel by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374299088/0374299080) follows an art dealer's identity crisis triggered by the arrival of his wife's free-spirited younger brother.

Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems (Balzer & Bray, $17.99, 9780061929571/0061929573) concludes the popular Knuffle Bunny children's picture book series.

The Fort: A Novel of the Revolutionary War
by Bernard Cornwell (Harper, $25.99, 9780061969638/006196963X) is historical fiction about a poorly executed 1779 American military campaign in Maine.

Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance
by Jenny McCarthy (Harper, $24.99, 9780062012982/0062012983) looks at various aspects of love and sex.

Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse
by James L. Swanson (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061233784/0061233781) compares Lincoln's funeral procession with Davis's escape from Richmond.


Ethan Stowell: Have a Good Time Eating

Ethan Stowell was named one of the 2008 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine and has been honored with multiple James Beard Award nominations for "Best Chef Northwest." At 36, he is also a Seattle institution. He opened his first restaurant, Union, to critical praise in 2003. Since then, he's opened Tavolata, an urban Italian eatery; How to Cook a Wolf, a smaller Italian-inspired restaurant that features small plates and house-made pastas; and Anchovies & Olives, another Italian restaurant that is seafood- and pasta-focused and offers a wine list that is 100% Italian with an emphasis on white varietals. Last month, he opened his fourth restaurant, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, where he is back to his first love, the kitchen. He went out on a limb with another Italian-inspired menu, so it's no wonder that his first cookbook is called Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen (Ten Speed, $35, 9781580088183, September 21, 2010). We managed to catch Stowell, with his lovely dog, Cleo, one morning the first week Staple & Fancy Mercantile opened.


It's obvious why you wrote an Italian cookbook, but what is so appealing to you about Italian cooking?

It's the approach to the food. The first thing I learned to make was pasta. My cooking has always leaned in that direction. My background is in high-end restaurants, but I got kind of bored. The "New American" label isn't fun, it's more of an ode to the food rather than to the eater. I like being more casual. No rules. No eight-course meals. I like it to be more relaxed. That seems to be what Italian food is like--if you are going to cook, do it well, but not fancy. I saw a real lack in the Seattle market for serious Italian cooking, and this cookbook is the cumulation.

For example, in the recipe for geoduck with scrambled eggs, I have respect for the geoduck. Don't be afraid of this guy. With scrambled eggs, you get an easy way to try geoduck and a way to sample the full pleasure of the ingredients. That's how I see Italian food--nice ingredients, not exceptionally hard to make, value the food, have a good time eating.


You make suggestions with alternate choices at the beginning of your recipes, and you say that "food shouldn't be formal and fussy, just focused." How does one achieve that?

It's a matter of good ingredients, again, and a willingness to experiment. Take parts of recipes and mix and match. There will be failures, but don't give up on a recipe after one try. Make it a few times then branch out. Teach yourself to cook that way. We don't want this cookbook to be intimidating--it's not an ode to the restaurant. These are recipes people can actually use, a bridge between The Joy of Cooking and The French Laundry Cookbook.


We seem to be afraid of food now more than ever before. Part of it is reality due to the way food is raised and processed, but is our fear out of proportion?

I think so. I mean, I keep eggs on the counter (at home) for a few days. But then, I get organic eggs--covered in straw and stuff. They are just fine until you wash the protective covering off. People are terrified of food. I think every kid in Seattle should know how to shuck an oyster by the time they're six. You'll get a bad oyster every now and then, but that's life. It's like a culinary fender bender.


How did you write the book, and test the recipes?

It took nine months of creating recipes, and it was often on-the-fly cooking with what was in the refrigerator at the time. We did focus on seafood. We cooked once a week for four hours to get a perfect recipe, then made the dish one more time for the photograph.

My co-author, Leslie Miller, and I, when we first met to talk about the cookbook, didn't know how it would go. But we had a great time. We're best friends now. That connection, on a professional and personal level, I hope, has resulted in an approachable and enjoyable cookbook.


It was bold of you to use rabbit paws in a recipe, along with the word "bunny."

I wanted to call the cookbook "Rabbit Paws and Radiatore" and Other Fun Recipes from Ethan Stowell.


You have over 1,000 cookbooks in your collection. What are you reading now?

Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Italy, Antonio Carluccio's books, and the River Café series--we want to do something like that, have a Northwest person writing more than one book. I wouldn't be opposed to writing five or six books. I'm also reading Spanish cookbooks for appetizer and small plate ideas. I tend to read two kinds of cookbooks: history and traditional foods and cuisines, and books about restaurants.


To wrap up, you have some wonderful cheese ideas to end a meal, like ginepro (a sheep's milk pecorino) with a gin-soaked pear. The chapter is called "Cheese for the Civilized and Desserts for the Rest of You."

It's really hard to get people to have cheese after dinner--they want chocolate or ice cream. So I included some treasures in the book (even chocolate ice cream), simple with pure flavors, like Blueberry-Basil Sorbet or Pie Cookies with butter and cinnamon. But cheese is still my favorite ending to a meal.--Marilyn Dahl


Book Review

Book Review: By Nightfall

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham (Farrar Straus Giroux, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780374299088, September 2010)

Peter and Rebecca Harris are 40ish, upper-class SoHo Manhattanites, invited to all the right parties, friends with the right people, living in an apartment where all the right art and furniture are on display. The set is just so, the actors know their lines, but something about the script isn't quite working.

Peter is an art dealer; Rebecca an editor. When the story begins, Rebecca is apologizing to Peter because Mizzy is coming to stay. Mizzy, short for "The Mistake," is Rebecca's 23-year-old brother, Ethan. What the ramifications are of being called a mistake for all of one's life may only be guessed at, but the fact is that Mizzy is a mess. A gorgeous mess. He has been in Japan contemplating stones for a month and feels that he has learned all he can from that exercise. It was "Beautiful. Inconclusive." He is allowed these forays because he has always been overindulged by his parents and his sisters, compensation for not having time for him. He has been an addict for years, in and out of rehab, but now claims to be clean and sober. Rebecca is a nervous wreck about his addiction and, indeed, the very first night in the Harrises' flat, he calls a dealer to deliver drugs to him. Peter hears the transaction and doesn't tell Rebecca. This sets up a situation that very soon comes home to roost.

Peter is a seeker after beauty, wherever it may be found; in a person, a piece of music, a work of art. He has had a hard time loving his daughter, Bea, from whom he is mostly estranged, because she is not beautiful and has thick ankles in the bargain. Their telephone conversations are painful; Bea full of anger, Peter conciliatory and begging Bea to tell him that he was a good father. Now, with the ennui of settled middle age, he sees in Ethan a perfection of beauty that dazzles and seduces him. Ethan resembles Rebecca, but with the taut body and careless nonchalance of youth. Peter's infatuation is not lost on Ethan; indeed, in his manipulative, underhanded way, he capitalizes on it.

The homoerotic tension between the two men is palpable. Cunningham is a past master at exploring gender-bending realities and bicurious relationships; here he is at his best. The rest of the story falls away as the connection between Peter and Ethan takes center stage. What flows from it, in Cunningham's perfect rendering, is poignant and heartbreaking. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Michael Cunningham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/Faulkner Award for The Hours, has crafted a meditation on beauty, love and the love of beauty above all else.





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