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Books by the bed

Books I'm listening to in the car

  • Sena Jeter Naslund: Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette (P.S.)

    Sena Jeter Naslund: Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette (P.S.)
    I don't like historical fiction. I have very little interest in the French monarchy. But Sena Jeter Nashland, whose first novel could not've been more different, is a brilliant writer, and has me utterly pulled into this world, time, and place, and given me sympathy towards a person to whom I had none. A novel like this reminds me of why I fall in love with fiction, over and over again. Transporting, tragic, and deeply fascinating. (****)

  • Markus Zusak: I Am the Messenger

    Markus Zusak: I Am the Messenger
    (***)

  • L.A. Meyer: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventures)

    L.A. Meyer: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventures)
    (***)

  • Robert Mnookin: Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight

    Robert Mnookin: Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight
    (*****)

  • Curtis Sittenfeld: American Wife: A Novel

    Curtis Sittenfeld: American Wife: A Novel
    Alice Lindgren Blackwell's normal-enough middle-class Wisconsin life goes through the windshield twice, once quickly and literally (a car wreck when she is in her early teens, in which she kills the young man who just may have been the love of her life) and once very slowly, and for a long, long time (when she marries Charlie, a super-wealthy, basically incompetent charmer with fierce political ambitions, who ends up --- somewhat to everyone's surprise --- in the White House). An imagining of a life loosely based on Laura Bush's, Sittenfield's writing is unshow-offy, as unobtrusive and accommodating as her careful protagonist, who tries to walk the impossible line of being "good wife" to a public figure with whose actions, public and private, she does not always agree, and cleaving to her own conscience, which may have gotten lost somewhere along the way. The book is inhabited by carefully drawn, detailed, dimensional characters: Alice's off-again-on-again best friend, her wise, quietly lesbian grandmother, the members of the dynasty into which she has married. An endless war, a weak wealthy husband saved from being a total wash-up by the embrace of a Christianity Alice herself does not understand, a bereaved parent whose son has died in the war, who attempts to meet the president ... all these echo the tragedy of the Bush years from an imagined perspective. Yet finally the novel rings true not because of this echo, but because Sittenfeld has created characters and a plot as complex, flawed, and mysterious as life itself. (****)

  • Nora Ephron: I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections (Vintage)

    Nora Ephron: I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections (Vintage)
    The wry, funny Nora Ephron, in her own words. She forgot more than many of us knew. Highly entertaining, and makes me grieve her recent death even more. (***)

Books in my (culinary) office

  • Mary Donovan: The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook: A Collection of Favourite Receipts from Thirteen Exemplary Eighteenth-Century Cooks With Proper Menus for Simple Fare
    Early American recipes and lots of good quotes from period source material, this is just the kind of thing that fascinates me. (***)
  • Kevin Young: The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink

    Kevin Young: The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink
    (***)

  • Michael Natkin: Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes

    Michael Natkin: Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes
    (****)

  • Ben Hewitt: The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

    Ben Hewitt: The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
    Hewitt raises more questions and hypotheses than he answer... one has the sense that he was grappling with issues that were too large for him, and the subject of the book, the food-centric (sort of) hardscrabble town of Hardwick, Vermont. I got frustrated with his asides and a certain precious town that occasionally crept in, but I couldn't help but find it enthralling. He tries to make peace with the fact that environmentally sound, home gardening, and incremental agricultural semi-self-sufficiency may be elitist and nay not be economically sustainable. But that our present-day food system is also frighteningly fragile and unhealthful in any way, and simply would work unsubsidized: 1 single fast-food mega-ag calorie on the plate takes an average of ***95*** calories of fossil fuel to get from seed to plate. A gardener himself, Ben Hewitt writes: "The scale on which my family and I grow food is arguably inefficient, in terms of economics, efficiency, and land use. We don't utilize chemical fertilizers, synthetic weed and pest control, or genetically modified seed; these things could probably boost production in the short run, but then, we don't farm for the short run. "I can buy a fine potato from any number of local farmers, but (not) the May afternoon I spent w/ Penny in the garden, sticking our hands deep into the cool soil. I can buy a head of lettuce, but (not) the pleasure & pride of my boys returning from the garden w/ a basket of greens & saying 'We picked it ourselves, Papa.' " And, in this Monsanto-fast food-fake-food world... being willing and able to feed yourself, even partially is a true "Occupy" act. Hewitt quotes a farmer named Eliot Coleman: "Small farmers are the last bastion protecting society from corporate industry. When we feed ourselves, we become unconquerable." I wish this book had been better edited: someone needed to keep Hewitt more on track and focused, with fewer asides. He needed to be less anecdotal and more fact-based, or more anecdotal and... Well. Still very much worth a read. (***)

  • Ayun Halliday: Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste
    A feisty memoiristic series of vignettes, from growing up in Indiana and aspiring to Betty Crocker Enchanted Castle cakes with a mom who aspired to Julia Child and a fried-chicken-and-mashed-potato cooking grandmother to the author's own "postcoital breakfasts", labor, deliveries, and childrearing (one picky eater, one not). Categorized on the jacket as "FOOD / HUMOR" it is both, sort of. A recipe, written slap-dash but followable, and certainly with personal, um, zest, follows each chapter. It kept me somewhat amused; it kept me reading; and it did warn "questionable taste." The latter was over-the-top for me; a combination of TMI, reliance on gross-out, and a few too many gratuitous 'fucks' crossed the just-have-to-drop-the-#-of-stars line. Ayun's a good writer; a little less smart-assiness and a little more depth to the revelations, and I could be done for the cause with her. (**)

Books in my (writing/creativity/teaching) office

Charlotte, Aunt Dot & me

  • Cz_laughing_happy
    An elderly mother, her even older sister, their middle-aged daughter/niece ... and a small sheep.

National Cornbread Festival

  • Fashion to a T
    The apogee of all experiences for the true cornbread lover is the National Cornbread Festival, held annually the last full weekend of April in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

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    Comments

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    Carol Meadors

    Crescent:
    I just read your article in Soire, and was touched by your words and my own memories of you, Ned, the Dairy Hollow House, and reading your books to my children who are grown now. What a magical evening we had at dinner in Eureka Springs on Valentine's night years ago! We stayed at your B&B several times, and always felt that the experience was worth ten times what we paid. You are an unforgetable lady. Thanks for the memories.

    Dr. Carol Meadors
    Little Rock

    Tracy Young

    Can you add fearless cooking to the mix?

    CD

    Tracy, it's there... just kind of informally. When I tried to actually put it in as such, couldn't make the schedule work, and my main focus IS writing.

    However, if this one works as I expect to, I'll do it annually, and I'll find a way to incorporate this piece as I'd first envisioned. It takes a slightly longer retreat, too, since I use a different part of myself to teach cooking than to teach writing... But thank you for asking!

    cd

    Masters Dissertation

    Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

    Marty Martindale

    Hi Crescent,

    Do you remember me from IACP 2000, Providence and Greenbrier 2001? You are still my most inspiring writing teacher.

    Currently, I'm compiling a collection of food short stories and need a boost. I also can get away this summer if you can suggest a colony/workshop.

    My site, Food Site of the Day, now nine years old is coming out very soon in a total remake.

    Like to hear from you,

    Marty

    coach sale

    summer beauty is night most. No doubt beautiful , jet-black bright dark moonlit night night, also has uncounted firefly sons dance trippingly. Be also having one two fireflies son in night, be flashing with the dim gleam in flying , this scene even if being a fine drizzle's be charming.

    Ben

    Can you add fearless cooking to the mix? https://www.hotfilemediafire.com

    chalise@kc.rr.com

    Crescent, No more Fearless in Italy? I always thought I'd do that with you. I'm contemplating Sept. 2-5, next, in Vermont.

    Hope you are well.

    Chalise Bourque
    We met in Tulsa a few years ago. I have a book Rain Forest Girl, that I gave to you, so you might remember me a little.

    Nancy Sadler

    Dear Crescent,
    It was great to meet you at the Cornbread Gospels lecture at the Historic Arkansas Museum. (I was the "Half a Moon and One Whole Star" story).
    Please put me on your email list as I would like to take your Fearless Writing workshop sometime in the Future.
    Your have a wonderful essence that really glows. Don't forget to check out my little blog "Spooky Mom Cooks".
    Sincerely
    Nancy Sadler

    Elliptical reviews

    No offense, but if there's a facebook like button, it'll be much easier for me to share.

    Pharmacist  Prospect

    It is very interesting and worth reading. It has intrigued me a lot. I kept reading it till last line. Keep posting similar stuff!

    tehan carey

    Dear Crescent,
    So fun to find your wonderful thoughtful rich blog. Your children's book Home Place illustrated by Jerry Pinkney is such a timeless family favorite. My daughter who had me read it over and over is in college.
    Was lead to find your website curiously through seeing your name in Nancy McDemott's fabulous and life changing quick and easy thia cookbook. What a wonderful range you spread your talents over. What an inspiration. maybe i will be lucky enough to attend one of your writers workshops one day..
    With immense gratitude and admiration as i head to the library for all your books and those by your bedside.
    Tehan Carey

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