Friday, August 29, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

Comedy nightmare topics in All the Light We Cannot See include a young Nazi soldier (I'm no Mel Brooks) and a young blind French girl in occupied France during WWII.  Louis C.K. could do something brilliant with that formula but he's a genius. Needless to say, this is not a comedy.

Set during the year just before and during the war, the story also includes an agoraphobic eccentric uncle and a mysterious giant diamond. It is probably the best contemporary fiction book I've read this year even though the snacks are few and far between.  The writing is excellent but not particularly flashy.  There is hope for contemporary fiction.  What is contemporary fiction?  Anything written after Benedict Cumberbatch became famous.  I realize using BC might be confusing so maybe it is best to use CE as in the Cumberbatch Era. Written in 2014, this is a fine CE4 novel.

Anthony Doerr is some sort of nature lover.  There are lot of snails, or whelks, in this book--and believe it or not--not as snacks. (I know, France!)  The Whelks sounds like a good name for a sports team.  But no one wants to be named after a snail (even if they seem well-adjusted and have a pretty shell).  Well, maybe Stanford.  Stanford doesn't even really have a mascot so they have a guy dressed as giant tree that runs around the football field.  A snail at least moves, not much, but MORE THAN TREES. 

Drinks: Brittany is known for its sparkling apple cider.  I have never had Breton cider but it comes in a fancy wine bottle ('natch) and looks delicious.  Plus I'm sure it is refreshing when your city is under siege and you are really really thirsty because you are trapped in a building that has collapsed and may or may not be on fire.    

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Weird sex stuff? Check. Mystical dimensions and vision quests? Check. Spaghetti making? Check and check.  This Murakami book, written in the mid-nineties features a vaguely nebbishy 30 year old guy named Toru and lots of sexy ladies doing sexy but sometimes creepy things.  But that is typical Murakami.  And making snacks.  In his books someone is usually making a snack or drinking coffee, or maybe a beer.  Apparently Murakami used to own a coffee shop.  If you write what you know, I think he must have also had a multi-dimensional sex shop.  I'm pretty sure it was called String Bikini Theory Sex Shoppe.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is shorter than 1Q84. I think this would be a good introduction to his work. I found it wasn't a page turner because of all the side stories but it is possible that I have surrealism burnout.  For some reason psychic prostitutes and sadistic death obsessed neighborhood girls just aren't enough for me to stay up late reading.  Maybe I just have Murakami burnout.  I totally needed to organize that closet anyway. Don't mind me, all other weirdoes (like me) like this book.  He's still an awesome writer and his philosophical and bizarre images stick with you like flying toasters, which is perfect for the mid-nineties. I found out that those flying toasters are copyrighted so THAT is why you are not seeing them everywhere. Trust me that stuff is back.  Well, not all of it.  Having an AOL email address is not back. 

Drinks: Toru likes beer.  In fact his neighborhood liquor store delivers a case of beer to his house and then bills him later.  Wow, this must be another dimension because that doesn't happen in my world.  Anyway, if you are not having a cold beer, maybe try a Pink Flamingo for a bird themed drink? Here is just one variation: 2 ounces rum, 3/4 ounce lime juice and 3 ounces good quality pink grapefruit soda.  Add the rum and lime juice to a shaker with ice shake and stain into a highball glass with ice, top with the grapefruit soda and garnish with a lime wheel or a long lime peel twist. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Catcher in the Rye

What is a chiffonier?  In the olden times, like those in The Cather in the Rye, that is what they called a chest a drawers.  Ok, I don't even know how to pronounce chiffonier, much less know when it is appropriate to use that word.  Also, when things are great they used to say things are "grand." Um, no.  You say or shout "THAT SOUNDS AWESOME!" (At least that's what I say....or shout).  It makes me think that 70 years from now people won't be calling everything awesome, although I will be fine with dropping YOLO.  In fact, I will be quite comfortable getting rid of that, of course I will be dead by then ...because you really only do live once.

I first read The Catcher in the Rye when I was a teenager just like our protagonist Holden (sounded like a rich kid's name then and still does). My book club picked it and while I rarely re-read books because there are more books in the world than years left in my life, it turns out I remembered almost nothing. I can't figure out if that is exciting or disturbing.  I remembered liking it, but I was worried, has my taste changed? No, I'm good...I kill me.

You've probably already read this book. One thing I noticed when I was re-reading this is that Holden, our sixteen year old semi-depressed teenager, enjoys interacting with kids because they are a refreshing tonic in a cynical world.  But what is weird is that he approaches kids in Central Park that he doesn't know and starts talking to them, even "helping" one kid on a teeter-totter.  Today, he would be arrested.  Seriously.  Helping a kid on a teeter-totter puts your hand right next to his butt.  Inappropriate.  Apparently things were more innocent in the 40's and 50's.  Things were gay.  Wait, gay means something different now.  Grand.

Drinks: Holden likes to drink cocktails even though he is underage.  One obvious one would be a Manhattan made with Rye (which is my new favorite way to drink it).  But I've given you that recipe.  So, how about another rye cocktail?  The Oriental: 1&1/2 ounces of Rye whiskey, 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, 3/4 Cointreau, 1/2 ounce lime juice. Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cherry.