Friday, July 15, 2011

Three recent reads....

Of three recent reads, my favourite is definitely Lapham's Quarterly, summer edition Food. I've spent hours enjoying the illustrations, essays and sidebars. Glancing at a single page brings hours of thought and imaginings.

Food has contributions from Emperor Julian, Duke Ellington, Hunter S. Thompson, Edo, and Charles Beaudelaire.  The illustrations are beautiful - including one of my all-time favourites from Arcimbaldo.

I've seen the quarterly on the shelf before but passed it up because it seemed pricey.  But how could I pass up one on this subject?  Certainly lots of "food for thought".

One sidebar offers:  Meal Plans Daily Menus at various institutions  through time and history(p 119); another offers the  William Carlos Williams poem, Icebox Note; and another Foreign Delicacies in Three Easy Steps, with recipes for fried tarantula, river pig, and maggot-ridden pecorino cheese (p.68).

Great quotes/toasts peppered throughout:
  • It is a hard matter, my fellow citizens, to argue with the belly, since it has no ears (Cato the Elder)
  • No lyric poems live long or please many people which are written by drinkers of water (Horace, 20 BC)
  • When men drink, then they are rich and successful and win lawsuits and are happy and help their friends.  Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever (Aristophanes, 424 BC)
  • Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die (Book of Isaiah)
  • He who eats alone chokes alone (Arab proverb)
Chop Suey, Edward Hopper (1929)

I felt obligated to read the The Sentimentalist when it won the Giller; I became obligated when it ended up as one of the Book Club selections. Not loving it. I find my mind wanders and I wonder what's going on as the plot unfolds upon itself. There is one bit I like, though, and that is the boat that was purchased with the intention to fix up and and then sits in the driveway for years. It moves when it is trailered from one place to another, floating along the driveway (and I imagine, sailing down the hiway). Reading this right after The Tale of the Unknown Island, the metaphor gains even more significance. I will go back to this again in August and give it another try....

Liz P. gave me Room as a gift, and I finally got around to reading it on the way home from Victoria. It was almost the perfect length for the plane ride. By the second chapter the first-person voice of the five-year-old was really getting on my nerves, but I persevered, hoping the two main characters would find their way out of confinement soon as I was losing patience. While the novel itself was inspired by real events, the insights of the five-year-old require a huge suspension of disbelief.

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