First off, let me thank Katherine Flinn's THE SHARPER YOUR KNIFE, THE LESS YOU CRY for lifting me out of my reading slump this week. Full disclosure: I'm only maybe four chapters in, and I wasn't hooked by the first chapter, but I'm on a roll now. This lovely (so far) memoir recounts a woman's adventures in Basic Cuisine class at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she enrolls after losing her job. What could be more tasty than this combo MASTER CHEF/travelogue with a French accent and references to Audrey Hepburn's SABRINA? There are even recipes, plain and fancy, at the end of each chapter. Hence its inclusion as our book club book for January 2010. Did I mention our book club is called "Read It and Eat"?
Yes, prior to picking the memoir up again today, I was thoroughly beaten down and dejected by my reading selection. PREP, by the deceptively named Curtis Sittenfeld (Curtis is a woman, with an also androgynously-named protagonist Lee Fiora), made me want to tear my hair out, thanks to Lee's Guinness-Book-of-World-Records low self-esteem. Yes, there are people with low self-esteem (though I defy even them to think more lowly of themselves than Lee Fiora does), but to be stuck inside her agonized, over-analytical, wordy head was not how I wanted to spend Advent. Nor would I ever want a daughter of mine to read such a book--I'd slap all four TWILIGHT books in their hands before I let that happen because Lee Fiora makes Bella Swan sound healthy.
I had also bogged down in David James Duncan's THE RIVER WHY, after thinking Duncan was the new literary love of my life. After the hilarious opening chapters, the self-indulgent existential angst began to wear on me, and last night I caught myself skimming. Skimming fiction? Never a good sign. A friend assures me that the book is more than entirely worth it and will pick up again, but I may have to give it a longer rest.
What I can heartily recommend (and what I'm now off to watch) is the film THE LITTLE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. It's now more famous as the movie which got remade as YOU'VE GOT MAIL, but accept no substitutes! I first saw this in the wonderful, "old-time" Stanford Theater in Palo Alto, California, but I'm hoping for the same magic on the little TV in our living room.
Writing is slow in this season, but Carolyn, if you're out there, I just used your condo as the setting for a dinner!