Archive for January, 2015

Blood, Bones & Butter

Blood, Bones & Butter is a memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton and it’s quite a read. Shocking in parts to say the least. (I’ll admit I ended up being not very fond of her.) It’s a real eye opener into the life of a well known, very popular chef who owns Prune restaurant in New York City. Gabrielle takes us through her life, from child to wife/mother with 2 children, with a hectic, stressful schedule all the while dealing with a “marriage of sorts” (he needed a green card) while openingly admitting she’s gay.  Got that? She learned the basics from her French mother who was a wonderful cook, and lateron at the farm table beside her Italian mother-in-law. How she kept up the pace of her life is a mystery to me. Her descriptions of the family’s annual vacation in Italy are beautiful. Buying and cooking the local food in the tiny kitchen with her mother-in-law holds special meaning to her, especially since she was never able to have a decent conversation with her because of language difficulties. They communicated through food. All the while the stress of a loveless, forced marriage hovers in the background. As well, over the years she developed an estranged relationship with her own mother. This book is a real eye opener into the world of a chef. But Gabrielle Hamilton isn’t just any chef. Still, anyone thinking of “getting into the business” should read this honest, brutal account of life in the kitchen. You’ll shake your head in wonder.

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A Man Called Ove

There have been quite a few “cute” books of late. Cute meaning that they’re quirky little stories of interesting characters doing peculiar stuff – like being 100 years old and climbing out of a window in a senior’s home, or hiding in a wardrobe while trying to buy a bed of nails at Ikea, or in the case of A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, just being an old curmungeon trying to instil law and order in his local neighbourhood. A feat by the way, that he finds terribly hard to achieve because it seems nobody pays any attention to the rules. The story starts out with Ove trying to buy an iPod. It’s really funny. He’s dealing with a sales assistant “with a single digit body mass index” who looks ill at ease as Ove shakes the box and demands to know if it’s a computer. Why he wants this doesn’t appear again til the very end of the story. By then I’d forgotten about the iPod because the story is full of episodes pertaining to just how difficult Ove is to get along with. Even though he was ousted as Chairman of his Residents’ Association he still does his morning rounds of the community, just making sure things are as they should be – he’s that type of curmudgeon. The character Ove was born on Backman’s blog where over 1,000 readers voted for him to write a novel about Ove.  The book subsequently became a word-of-mouth sensation across Europe, and now it’s here on our bookstore shelves. I liked it a lot. It’s about love and community, it’s tender and moving in parts, and it’s very funny. Give it a go.

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