Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Under the Skin

🎶 Under the skin...under the skin, darling it's better, under the dermis, take it from me...🎶. Now you have that song stuck in your head for the next 2 to 3 years. C'mon, things could be worse. Under the skin is hard to review without spoiling it--which I won't.  I'm going to call it thriller, ok?  I don't even know.  It's thought provoking and entertaining. That's pretty much all I want in a book anyway.

They also made a movie which came out about three years ago but you didn't see it. It has Scarlett Johansson but it was filmed in Scotland. We had to put the subtitles on so it might have been a good thing we missed it in the theater. By the way, the movie is completely different than the book.  It's really good but weird as hell. It's like Jonathan Glazer channeled Stanley Kubrick at a avant-garde theater class. Fine, it also involves lots and lots of nudity ok?    

In the book, our main character picks up hitchhikers. Luckily they changed that for the movie because when is the last time you saw a hitchhiker? Like 3 years ago? Just when you get that song stuck out of your head you'll see one. The book is short and a little scary but it's good. This is my third Michel Faber book and I've enjoyed all three. I wish he was slightly more prolific. I think Stephen King has a new book coming out. No matter when you read this post that will still be a relevant tidbit of news. Maybe Michel Faber should go to the Stephen King School for Prolific Profundity.

Without spoiling the plot... trust me, a harvest based drink is appropriate. Even though this was set in Scotland this one is called English Harvest. I'm sure in Great Britain those are not even remotely the same thing but to Americans....well, close enough. One ounce dry gin, 3/4 ounce apple brandy, 3/4 ounce dry vermouth, 3/4 ounce unfiltered apple juice, 1/4 ounce orgeat (almond flavored syrup), 3 dashes bitters.  Add ingredients to a cocktail shakers with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe or other classy cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.  


Monday, November 13, 2017

The Shadow Land

Where are the Vampires? That is all I remember about Elizabeth Kostova's book The Historian. I was working at a bookstore at the time and that book was crazy hyped. She got over a million dollars for the book and she was a first time author. Apparently they thought it would be the next The Da Vinci Code and I'm not even going to parse out what's wrong with that. It turns out it was ok, its been a while and if I remember there were real vampires but it turns out that were a part of a multi-level marketing scheme. Like Amway for Vampires. BUT YOU GET DISTRIBUTOR DISCOUNT! I might be remembering it wrong.

The Shadow Land has no vampires. There are a few hints of the supernatural but it's really a frame story set in Bulgaria with a World War II story tucked inside. It reminds me a lot of Invisible Bridge, so you know it's going to be fun in the sun. That's a bit of sarcasm because this story is not fun in the sun. Is more like cruel in the pool. In Communist Bulgaria story reads you. I don't even know what that means. It's a good book but not amazing. Our frame story protagonist grows up in a quasi-hippy academic household in the Blue Ridge mountains where they were slightly broke but there was an abundance of homemade cookies. That sounds so nice I think that will be included in my happy places. Do you remember "Binders full of Women"? Well, I have a mental binder full of dappled sunlit cottages with drinks and baked goods. Mental happy places come up in this book. Our guy's happy place involves Vivaldi and I'm like...I guess....needs more muffins, but whatever. 

Set in Bulgaria, at one point in this book they drink rakia, because that's what you do. This cocktail is called a Serbian 77. Considering these two countries fought against each other at one point that seems wrong but maybe after 130 years its been long enough. 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup or elder-flower liqueur, 1 ounce kinsman rakia and 3 ounces of champagne or Prosecco.  Combine everything but the Prosecco in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a coupe or large flute and top with the Prosecco.  Garnish with a lemon peel.