Sunday, August 22, 2021

Read 'Em And Weep: Mid-August, 2021

 There was reading, but no weeping. I promise. It's just allergy season.

What I read:

Who Was Juliette Gordon Low? - Dana Meachen Rau. Another standout in the Who Was..? series. Juliette Gordon Low a.k.a. Daisy (and sometimes Crazy Daisy for her impetuous nature) to her friends and family jumps off the pages. Being a one-time Girl Scout, I thoroughly appreciated this book. Using the cookies as a ratings marker, I give it 10 boxes of Thin Mints. As for Dana Meachen Rau, she should have the Writer badge sewn on her sash straightaway.

Best Food Writing 2003 -Holly Hughes, editor. Unlike some years with this series, I found 2003 to be an uneven mix of good and  ho-hum. I did enjoy Nigel Slater's "Kit", an assessment of kitchen essentials; "Travels with Captain Bacon", which involved a road trip through Kentucky and Tennessee in search of the most perfect part of the pig, in my opinion; "Sustaining Vision" by Michael Pollan, which already grabbed my attention when I read it in The Omnivore's Dilemma; "With Pancakes, Every Day is Sunday" Hell YES!; "Grilling, Short and Sweet" by John Kessler, who Asian-grills rather than Texas-barbecues again HELL YES; Kathleen Brennan's "Cajun Pig Party" which follows the Louisiana back country action all the way from Sue the pig's last snorts and squeals to the after-dinner dancing; Robb Walsh's "Say Cheez", in which he explores the debate about what cheese or Cheez truly completes a perfect Philly Cheesesteak; Andrea Strong's fond look back in "Ode to Sloppy Joe, a Delicious Mess". The origin stories are as messy as the dish itself; "Bread Winner" by Susan Choi who serendipitously meets up with a true sandwich artist on her daily trip to her neighborhood deli; and "The Culinary Underground" by John T. Edge about a couple in Mississippi who serve lunch out of their modest home every weekday.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo. Care asked me in a recent postcard if I'd read this book. When I replied, I forgot to tell her I had not, then I found the audiobook, and now I have and it was beautiful, brilliant, devastating first-rate reporting. The author spent several years following the up and down (mostly down) fortunes of a handful of people in Annawadi, a slum in Mumbai, located near the airport. It reads (or in this case, listens) like a novel, but the onionlike levels of corruption that Boo peels back again and again are frustratingly and wrenchingly real.

What I'm reading:

The Andy Warhol Diaries - Andy Warhol, edited by Pat Hackett. Since Warhol dictated his entries over the phone to Pat Hackett, they have a sort of unreflective flatness. Then it hit me that Warhol was yet again well ahead of his time. Except for the character count, they're tweets! My favorite diary entry so far: I had so many dates for tonight, but I decided to stay home and dye my eyebrows. It was a refreshing change from all that name-dropping.

The Spawn brought home a series of books called "Food Dudes" which are juvenile nonfiction offerings that tell the story behind iconic American foods and beverages: M&Ms, Oreos, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Heinz Ketchup, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Hershey's chocolate, to name a few. I don't know why, but I'm just not feeling this series. Overall, the writing seems a little dull.

In a similar vein, The Spawn also brought home a huge stack of books --Toy Trailblazers-- that chronicle iconic American toys: American Girl Dolls, Barbie, Lincoln Logs, My Little Pony, Rubik's Cube, Hot Wheels, and Monopoly are examples. I've just started reading the one about the young woman who became a sensation on YouTube for getting creative with slime. This series' writing seems a little more lively.

Who Is Dolly Parton? - True Kelley. I'm still reading, and I already love this book. Bonus points to True Kelley for mentioning "Joshua", the song that made me a Dolly fan so many, many years ago.

Strange reading coincidence: Dolly Parton and Andy Warhol crossed paths! He's name-dropped her three times already in the diaries, and I'm only on page 186.

What I want to read:

I went to the bookstore today and cast a longing eye upon Billie Jean King's autobiography.

Vernon Gravely, who wrote Promise Unfulfilled, a biography of actor Robert Morris, has written a historical book about boxing. It will be out in the early fall.

1 comment:

Unruly Reader said...

Oh my land -- 10 boxes of Thin Mints and a badge to boot! Your writing just plain makes me smile.