what i read in...

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what i read in: 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003 : 2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999 : 1998 : 1997 : 1996

Tayari Jones

Written road
Nomad chronicles
travel writers

small spiral notebook
pete lit
elegant variation
reading experience
moorish girl

chez pim
chocolate & zucchini
The food section
is my blog burning?
saute wednesday
a full belly
edible tulip

daily olive
cheese diaries

becks & posh

leite's culinaria
food history news
gastronomy @ BU
food timeline

3.31 Mary Chestnut
3.30 Anna Sewell
antiphrasis (an-TIF-ruh-sis) noun

The humorous or ironic use of a word or a phrase in a sense opposite
of its usual meaning. For example:
"Brutus is an honorable man." -Antony in Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)

[From Late Latin, from Greek antiphrazein (to express by the opposite), from anti- + phrazein (to speak).]

3.29 Judith Guest
paralipsis (par-uh-LIP-sis) noun, plural paralipses (-seez)

Drawing attention to something while claiming to be passing over it.

[From Late Latin paralipsis, from Greek paraleipsis (an omission), from paraleipein (to leave on one side), from para- (side) + leipein (to leave).]

3.28 Jane Rule
antanaclasis (ant-an-uh-KLAS-is) noun

A play on words in which a key word is repeated in a different,
often contrary, sense.

[From Greek antanaklasis (echo or reflection), from anti- (against) +
ana- + klasis (breaking or bending).]

3.27 Jane Chambers , Sarah Vaughan, & T.R. Pearson
2.26 Erica Jong, Robert Frost, & Tennessee Williams
2.25 Flannery O'Connor & Gloria Steinem
3.23 Fannie Farmer & Eleanor Cameron
3.18 Alice French
3.16 Rosa Bonheur & Alice Hoffman
3.14 Sylvia Beach
3.13 Janet Flanner
3.12 Carl Hiaasen, Naomi Shihab Nye, & Jack Kerouac
3.11 Douglas Adams
3.9 Vita Sackville-West
ernissage (ver-nuh-SAZH) noun

A private showing or preview of an art exhibition before the public
opening; also the reception celebrating the opening of an art exhibition.

[From French vernissage (varnishing), from vernis (varnish), ultimately from Berenik, the name of an ancient city in Cyrenaica in northern Africa where natural resins were first used as varnish.]

gamboge (gam-BOJ, -BOOZH) noun

1. A reddish yellow color.

2. A gum resin obtained from the sap of trees of the genus
Garcinia, used as a yellow pigment and as a cathartic.

[From New Latin gambogium, variant of cambugium, after Cambodia where, among other places in southeast Asia, this tree is found.]

3.6 Elizabeth Barrett Browning & Gabriel García Márquez
3.5 Josephine Herbst & Leslie Marmon Silko
postprandial (post-PRAN-dee-uhl) adjective

After a meal, especially dinner.

[From Latin post- (after) + prandium (meal). Ultimately from Indo-European root ed- (to eat or to bite) that has given other words such as edible, comestible, obese, etch, and fret.]

bibacious (by-BAY-shuhs) adjective

Overly fond of drinking.

[From Latin bibere (to drink).]

3.2 John Irving
polyphagia (pol-ee-FAY-jee-uh) noun

1. Excessive appetite or eating.

2. The habit of feeding on many kinds of food.

[From Modern Latin, from Greek polyphagia, from polyphagos, from poly- (much, many) + phagy (eating).]

3.1 Mercedes De Acosta
sitophobia (sy-tuh-FO-bee-uh) noun

Morbid aversion to food.

[From Greek sito- (food) + -phobia (fear, aversion).]

The word is also spelled as sitiophobia. Two related words are sitomania (abnormal craving for food), and sitology (the study of nutrition).


Thursday, March 31, 2005
still more bio & yet another memoir

Amazon's most prolific reviewer has a library science degree. But to read 3 or 4 books each day, she can't actually work anywhere.

What else? I stayed up past 1 a.m. this morning finishing up Making time. 351 pages. And then there were at least thirty pages of notes that I didn't read. Again, this was a great biography, so thorough. Gilbreth was also well-regarded for her work on behalf of disabled people. As early as WW I she studied movements of disabled soldiers to determine the most efficient movements for them, and went on to help design ergonomic spaces like kitchens for the disabled. She was a remarkable woman. I wish I'd known her, but she died in 1972.

Next on my list is Creeker: A woman's journey. I've owned the hardback edition for several years, but am finally reading it now for a class. One of its reviews reads: "you can take a woman out of Appalachia but you can't take Appalachia out of the woman."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
more about memoir and bio

This author at the SeattlePI is saddened that she/he missed the memoir train. Reality television is to blame for the plethora of memoirs written by folks who are too young to have experienced anything of note, so writes the author. But really, her/his fear is that if she wrote it, nobody would read it; it might be too boring.

A bit about Susan Sontag: Who will replace her?

The Gilbreth bio is coming along. I only wish I had more time to spend reading. I was drawn to the television last night for some reason and watched several shows of no real value. I've started noticing all the not-so-subtle advertising and it horrifies me. Like on Entertainment Tonight, the birthday portion at the end of the show is sponsored by Tide. I'm sure I'd be much more disgusted if I actually spent much time in front of the tube. However, this biography is one of the best I've read. It seems that the author had a lot of primary documents to draw from and her book is rich in details. But, the writing is just perfect, too. Gilbreth brought educational psychology to scientific management while her husband is known for his motion studies which were applied to scientific management. Much of the book chronicles Gilbreth's perpetual pregnancy, but also discusses her career. Her husband was surprisingly feminist in one aspect--he wanted her to have a career. But, she was better educated than he, and smarter, too. She wrote all the books and magazine articles that were published in his name. He was the public front of their partnership and enjoyed the salesmanship bit of public speaking, though again, she ran circles around him at the lectern. After all, there was a nanny, his mother, the cook/housekeeper, and a Jack-of-all-trades that they kept on at their house to help with all the children. Imagine what any of us could accomplish with that kind of support system in place.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
memoir, women's writing, & more

An interesting article at the NYT about memoir, which formerly was "important events related by a great man who shaped them." But now? It encompasses everything.

Oh no, the work of women writers is depressing and boring? This bit from the Guardian talks about the meaningless of categorizing women's writing as "women's writing."

Atlantic Monthly won't include fiction in it's regular pages, but plans to produce a special fiction only issue.

I still don't know what to think about the Bombshell manual of style. I read it. It was okay. I'm not sure that it fulfilled my expectations. Basically it cataloged the attributes of bombshells. From what cologne they wear to interesting tidbits about what shoes they prefer, it covered the range of personal adornment and expression. But as far as being particularly valuable to me? I hoped it would contain more history of design and fashion. Assuredly, it was a pleasant book, one more appropriate for bathtub reading than for armchair reading.

And, I'm enjoying Making time: Lillian Moller Gilbreth--a life beyond "Cheaper by the dozen". It's about a working mother. Her children wrote a book about their childhood called "Cheaper by the dozen," which chronicled their family life including all twelve children. In that book, Lillian was a peripheral character, as her children wrote mostly about their father and his achievements. Lillian was always modest, but was quite an achiever for her generation and also seemingly balanced motherhood with quite an impressive career as a psychologist who spread managerial efficiency in both public and domestic workplaces.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
writing for readers & bohemians

A story at the Guardian hearkens back to the old days when writers' works were written for smaller audiences instead of fulfilling a BigMac need in today's market.

I'm reading Weird like us: My bohemian America and it seems terribly familiar, like I've already read it. But, searching through the list of books I've read for the past five years didn't unearth its title. Instead of buying it, I got it from the library, because I'm just that kind of reader, y'all. I didn't read the flyleaf, so I'm not entirely sure what it's about. But, I like to be surprised anyway. Always knowing what everything is about becomes dreary. The first chapter was about family and how certain generations cast off their oppressive "natural families" and adopted their friends to operate in that role; like a proto-"Friends" movement that wasn't co-opted by corporate television. Now, in the second chapter, I'm reading all about the sexual perverts. Really, it's more about the sex wars of the eighties between the anti-porn feminists and the pro-sex feminists. Much of the author's reminiscences take place during the time period that she lived in San Francisco (late eighties, early nineties), if that's any indication about anything. It's a curious mix of recent history, cultural politics, and personal anecdote. I guess the premise of the book is that Bohemia is gone, was gone as early as 1912, really. But that there are manifestations of it still. However, consumer culture has co-opted everything Bohemian, everything cool or alternative, so we're all the same now, after all. So, it's basically a memoir of vestigial Bohemia .Hurrah.

I have something called Spin sisters: How the women of the media sell unhappiness and liberalism to the women of America. It seems provocative. It's written by a Republican, or someone who claims to vote that way. I'm eager to learn her argument, which I understand to be that most women's magazine editors are elite liberal women who came of age in the 60s and 70s and thus are clueless about reality, or the reality of women's lives. This reviewer at NYMetro said: "Blyth argues that the magazines turn women into victims because of the emphasis we put on stress, health, men, the environment. Victims, she says, are what liberals need to enact their policies, thus the leap to the fiction of the liberal conspiracy."

Marly sent me an email letting me know that her sestina "The Nesting Doll" lives and breathes at McSweeney's.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
best dressed books

Last night I read Slim Keith's autobiography. It was called Slim: Memories of a rich and imperfect life. Interestingly, the "co-author" wrote The Power of Style, which I read a few weeks ago. It featured a chapter on Slim. But who is Slim? She was named one of the best dressed women in the world in 1948 and was married to a movie director (Howard Hawks) and Broadway producer (Leland Hayward), and a British banker (Kenneth Keith). She was close friends with Betty Bacall, Claudette Colbert, and Hemingway, as well as others, like that rat fink Truman Capote. Basically the book cataloged her friendships and marriages, along with some challenges she faced as a mother and step-mother. I don't think she ever really worked, though I recall that she was involved with Harper's Bazaar at some level. She was photographed for its covers, but maybe she also did editorial work for them. She mentioned very little about that aspect of her life.

The secret life of a schoolgirl was well-written. The author's writing immediately drew me into her world of growing up British in the 1950s and 1960s. The big secret in her life was her two or three year affair with Richard Burton. She was under aged and he was almost thirty. No doubt, that was the big draw of the book, but the rest of Kingsland's book was charming and illuminated so much about childhood during that time period.

Though I've been off mysteries for several years, I decided to try Murder in the Marais. How could I resist? It was set in Paris. The story was okay. The writing was good, but often there weren't transitions where they should be. So the book seemed jumpy. It's about a private investigator, AImee Leduc, who takes on a case that she's not comfortable with. She does computer investigation for businesses, but a man approaches her about solving the mystery of a photo encrypted on a diskette. Leduc's supposed to deliver a print of the photo to a woman, but finds her dead. Besides being set in Paris, the mystery is set within the Jewish community there and part of the mystery goes back to World War II and deals with collaborators, etc.

Also finished reading all the essays in Transnational West Virginia: Ethnic Communities and Economic Change, 1840-1940. They were interesting and historic, but other than that, I don't have much to say about the book. Good research and writing for the most part. Oh yeah, now I remember what I didn't like about the book: Very little of its content dealt at all with women.

I'm going in reverse chronological order here, so actually I read Magical thinking: True stories before the WV book, not that it matters. Augusten Burroughs is one of my favorite writers. His work is infinitely readable, lovely, charming, witty, clever... I could go on. The stories he tells are outrageous. In one essay he writes about his relationship with an undertaker. In another he recounts his experience with his cleaning lady. That may sound rather boring, but he just has a way with words and stories and makes the most trivial experience extraordinary. No. I guess it's that he makes all his dark experiences shiny and new? What is it about him?

Almost a week has passed since I read Out of the kitchen: Adventures of a food writer and I can't quite remember what it was about now. I liked it, but it is not my favorite food memoir. Now I remember. One side of her family was Irish and the other was Spanish, so she inherited vastly different ways of thinking about food and cooking. Most of her memories were food-related, which was appropriate for the book. She was friends with Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher. I hate that so much time has passed that I simply cannot recall more about the book. How terrible. It includes recipes.

My new favorite author is Ruth Ozeki who wrote All over creation. It was about a potato farmer in Idaho whose long-estranged daughter returns home with her three children to care for he and his wife who suffers from dementia. His health is poor as well. Then there are these radical hippy types who adopt the old man as their guru because they are against genetic engineering of potatoes and, well every fruit and vegetable. The writing was excellent and the topic was most interesting.

Then what else? Oh, Big love. It was sort of a chick litty kind of novel. One of those young professional woman's boyfriend leaves her for another woman and then she struggles with self-esteem and depression before jumping into bed with her hot new boss. Actually, it surprised me near the end for seeming so true to life. There were good truths in the book. But, really, it's an easy read. And the back cover's blurb reads as much. Something about it being a good beach read, or airplane book.

One of the best books I've read was Before you know kindness. Yesterday I had a conversation with another reader about our reading preferences. She rarely ever reads anything by male writers because she doesn't like what they write about, or how they write about it. And I replied that I rarely ever actively seek out male writers, though there are a few whose work I will not miss. Chris Bohjalian is one of the few male writers whose work I never miss. And Before you know kindness did not disappoint. It's about a family who vacations together in New England. But this year a daughter shoots her vegan father in the garden one night because she thinks he's a deer. Where did the rifle come from? Well, it's not a mystery, but Bohjalian places the pieces together in such a subtle manner. His writing is easy to fall into. I didn't want to put the book down. He deals with several issues within the book. And I guess what I like about his books is that he writes on family topics with great sensitivity. He writes like a woman.

Toast: The story of a boy's hunger was enlightening. I knew very little about British foodstuffs before reading this book. It's basically the tale of how a boy became a chef. Each chapter heading has something to do with food and so each anecdote is based around toast, for example. Reading this memoir and the Kingsland one makes me realize how dreary British childhood is. But, like most children, Niles made the best of it, and learned to cook, to boot. At times my interest waned a bit. I had trouble figuring out where the story was going.

But of course, the book that introduced me to Ruth Ozeki was My year of meats, which I read a few short days before diving into her second one. I read about My year of meats somewhere, and had the impression that it was non-fiction. But, it was not. The story was about a Japanese-American documentarian who is hired to travel across America to produce a television show for a Japanese audience that touts meat, especially beef. The narration is split between Jane, the documentarian, and her Japanese bosses' wife, a traditional Japanese woman who quit her job in anime after she married her husband. The more Jane learns about beef, the more disturbed she becomes. The episodes of "My American Wife" that she produces and edits become more and more controversial and her Japanese boss steps in more and more frequently to control her. Excellent book. Great writing. Another favorite thing I've read this year.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Charming article at NYT about the youthful lexicographer trend. Sounds like potentially more fun than being a librarian.

An article at the Chicago Trib introduces The Chronicle's web-rival Insidehighered.com.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
in the news

Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins just might be white. Her work will be removed from the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers, published by Oxford University Press.

Wouldn't we all rather be reading Jane Austen? Well, I'm not a great fan, but I can appreciate her work.

Ms. Mentor goes off on food whiners. She surmises that "Many an adult food fight is really about manners, not taste."

Ayun Halliday interview at Bookslut about her latest book, Job Hopper.

Readers make better police officers, according to an article at the Guardian.

Libraries and archives race to be the one who gets Hunter S. Thompson's papers. "The median price for a contemporary author's archives can be $200,000 to $500,000." In more library news, a new culinary center opened at the University of Michigan's William Clements Library: thousands of items relating to American culinary history comes from Daniel and Janice Longone of Ann Arbor, the result of their lifetime of collecting.

Maureen Dowd comments on why newspapers have so few female columnists. Hmmmm, because male editors hire male columnists? O'Dowd says it's because men enjoy verbal dueling. Women, they just want to be liked. She also writes that "Men take professional criticism more personally when it comes from a woman." She asked a renowned folklorist what was up with all these men thinking that her criticism/opinion of them=castration/emasculation and his reply was "Women are supposed to take it, not dish it out," he replied. "If a woman embarrasses a man, he feels inadequate, effeminate. He wants her to go back to the kitchen."

What? "books, especially hardbacks, are viewed by many as overpriced, elitist and irrelevant?"

A new memoir of prostitution, Callgirl. Will probably have to read this one, as it is an ongoing area of personal interest.

I read eleven books in the past week or so. More about those tomorrow.

Sorry, intermittent or no new posts until March 14, 2005

Friday, March 4, 2005
love of reading

UK students aren't learning to love reading. And, a book's popularity has more to do with word-of-mouth, than with advertising & marketing.

I'm about two-thirds of the way through No logo. Actually, it seems that it reminds me more of Consuming kids and Free culture. I've never thought about it before, but in the chapter called "no jobs," Klein described how US companies are getting out of the manufacturing business. They don't make products anymore, they only market brands. And then they outsource the manufacturing to free-export zones in third-world countries and Americans lose jobs.

Thursday, March 3, 2005
Yiddish profiles of labor lifestyles

A story about Sarah Vowell's new book Assassination vacation appeared in the VV.

Slavery in the American Mountain South was okay. The first few chapters were rough with all the stats, but the information in later chapters was invaluable and changed my misconceptions about slavery in the Mountain South. Also, the book is great because it provided an accurate and complete picture of the region's labor force, including poor whites, in the antebellum period.

Instead of digging into the Reich book, I started No Logo: Brands, Globalization & Resistance instead. I can't decide whether to finish the Reich book because I don't need convincing of his viewpoint. Yet, reading his arguments could make mine a little clearer. Anyway, there wasn't any choice in the matter last night because I left his book at work. I've checked out No logo at least half a dozen times and never cracked its spine. I stayed up until one-ish this morning reading it. If it weren't for work--and having to get some sleep to prepare for the day ahead--I probably would have finished it later this morning. Oh, it's thick, no doubt, but once I'm into a book, I hate to part with it. The rotten thing about this particular book is that someone who borrowed it from the public library before me underlined paragraphs of the text in blue ink. And, they left their nasty little sticky notes in some of the pages as well. What to do? A lot of No logo covers the same ground that Hello, I'm special did. In fact, I believe that the latter author used Klein's book as a source for his.

I received several books in the mail yesterday. One is bi-lingual, in English and Japanese. Lotta Jansdotter's Lifestyle showcases her products. And the book includes recipes as well. Only, they're in Japanese and not English. Her aesthetic is so dang peachy; I love it. I also got a book about famous Ohio women, Profiles of Ohio Women: 1803-2003, but it reeks. The person who sold it to me apparently smokes. It is nasty. I'll have to expose it to some UV rays or something to remove the stench. Otherwise, I'm not sure that I can tolerate it, and certainly won't put it next to any other books in my library. I won't let it live in the house unless I can lessen the stink. Gross. And then, the other book is a reference work published in 1974 called Biographical dictionary of American labor leaders.

What else? More books coming, and I forgot to mention a few that I received last week, but that's not important, though I did read Yiddish with Dick and Jane. I hoped for more vocabulary words and there were a few that I was unfamiliar with, but... overall, it was just okay.

My horoscope suggests that I "display an openhearted curiosity as you live on the edge of your understanding" this week.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005
number and percentages and fractions, oh my!

Am finishing up Slavery in the American Mountain South. I like the narrative parts best. There are lots of paragraphs and entries sections that are solely numbers and percentages and fractions. Yuck. It makes for boring reading. When there are too many of those kinds of elements in a book, it's like my brain takes a vacation. My eyes read the words, but sometimes the connection is lost. But, there was a great section on meat, and there've been other good sections. I enjoyed the one about canals. Basically the book talks about the different ways that free black and slave labor were distributed across the Mountain South. One of the chapters in the latter part of the book talks about poor whites and their complicity in the slave trade and culture.

An interesting story on Wikipeida at Wired this morning. And, file-swapping makes strange bed partners: Fundies partner with the studios to staunch the sharing of porn files. More on copyright from Wired: Your favorite tv show--like WKRP in Cincinnati--isn't on DVD because the cost of licensing the music played on those shows is astronomical.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005
canine connection

After reading Hello I'm special, I'm more confused than before. The author didn't give any suggestions for solving the problem that he chronicled in the book. I hate when that happens.

I hope the same thing doesn't happen with the Richard Reich book that I started late last night. I got to page sixty-nine before deciding that it was time to turn out the light. Reason: Why liberals will win the battle for America is so easy to read. Reich's writing is like butter; I slipped right into it. I'm learning, and that's important. I don't read about politics, nor do I keep up with current events, because it's easier not to care. Will this book turn that around? I fear that the author wants readers to run for political office. Nothing appeals to me less than that. Okay, maybe being the person who collects animal carcasses from the roads is worse. Or being a toll booth collector.

Before I began Reason, I read The power of style: The women who defined the art of living well. It fascinated me. I sat on my couch and read it straight through, only breaking once or twice to go to the bathroom, or let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. The author gathered the names of one hundred women but then got them down to fourteen. They are all "originals, the first women of this century to use style to propel themselves out of anonymity and into the limelight." There were no actresses included. I learned about Coco Chanel, Jacqueline Kennedy, Diana Vreeland, and the Duchess of Windsor, among others. The two women whose stories I connected with most of all were Slim Keith and Millicent Rogers. But, throughout the book, one of the most interesting things is that most all of the women profiled were dogs lovers or dog owners. Seems like a connection to me.






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