Patricia Klindienst: The Earth Knows My Name
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In the early 1970’s Studs Terkel traveled across the country interviewing people about their work, and eventually compiled the interviews into the book Working. In the early 2000’s, Patricia Klindienst took a similar approach, traveling around the USA to interview ethnic gardeners, immigrants who maintain their cultural identity through their connection to the earth.
While The Earth Knows My Name will never be a musical, it is a marvellous testament to the importance of earth and water, seed and plant, and in sustaining not just our ethnic roots, but also our whole selves. Her words bring to life the feeling of warm sun on your back while you plant corn, or crisp autumn mornings harvesting beans. She lets you smell the scent of flowers, but also taste the flavor of language, in her profiles of 15 gardeners.
This book is well written, it is poignant, and it is gently honest, with the author’s love of gardening, and sincere respect for her subjects masking the inevitable political undercurrents.
My only complaint is that there should have been more pictures – I craved a coffee-table presentation, with Klindienst’s words matched to lush photographs.
But maybe the mind’s eye is the better viewing choice. Buy the book, and decide for yourself. Better yet, buy the book, and plant a garden.
Laura Pauli: My Keyboard for a Cutting Board
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Part luscious food-porn and part letter home from abroad, Laura Pauli’s first book is both engaging and compelling, telling the story of her initial experiences cooking in France after leaving a corporate cubicle job in Silicon Valley. Culled from her blog, and letters she actually wrote to friends and family, it shares her story – including descriptions of food that make the mouth water, and far less appetizing descriptions of things like the shoebox apartment she rents, that could fit inside one room of her former residence in the Bay Area.
Alan F. Troop: Dragon Moon
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In the second Dragon Delasangre novel, Troop continues his novel approach to dragons, introducing us to new powers, new breeds, and also weaving in a family drama – his new romance with his deceased wife’s sister. Still in dire need of a better editor, but good bathroom reading.
Alan F. Troop: The Dragon Delasangre
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When Fuzzy brought me this book I looked at the cover and said, “What is it, a new vampire novel?” Oh, how wrong I was. Author Alan F. Troop’s first novel about a shapeshifting race whose natural form is that of the dragon was compelling and entertaining, though poorly edited. The title character, Peter Delasangre, is, when we meet him, a human being living on an island off the coast of Miami – only when he devours (literally) the young waitress who was hitting on him hours before in a restaurant do we see the reality of his natural form.
The first in a series of (currently) four novels, this book introduces us to Peter, his human employees, and his eventual wife Elizabeth, and her family.
Mind candy, but fun mind candy.
Julia Glass: The Whole World Over
Greenie is relatively happy in her New York life, with four-year-old son George, and psychotherapist husband Alan, except that the latter seems distant lately, and even the fact that her bakery business is going really well, doesn’t deflect the sadness that they don’t seem to talk any more.
When the larger-than-life governor of New Mexico invites her to audition to be his personal chef, and then to actually take the job, Greenie decides to go for it, hoping the change of pace will help her family. She and George have a lovely summer together, but she and Alan grow ever more emotionally distant with that many miles between them, and when a childhood flame turns up at the governor’s ranch, she tumbles into an affair.
Filled with interesting characters both in New Mexico and Manhattan, this book is the story of a year in one woman’s life, and that of all her friends, a year that culminates, not with the turning of the calendar pages, but the destruction of the twin towers – for it’s the events of 9/11/01 that finally cause Greenie and Alan to move back toward togetherness.
An easy, comfortable book with three-dimensional characters.