Thursday, August 27, 2009

My life in France

I should admit, right off the bat, that I am not a food person. Anthony Bourdain would HATE me. So much of Julia Child's memoir of her life in Paris and the beginning of her cooking career was lost on me. Her descriptions of the fabulous meals she ate and cooked meant nothing, because I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would ever agree to eat a snail. Or pate. Or or or. The list is endless.

Despite my food issues, I found this book completely charming. Child's enthusiasm for life and cooking and her husband shine through on every page. Even though the cooking didn't interest me, I was swept along in her story and her life.

The parts of the book about actually getting her cookbooks written and published were amazing. She and her partner worked for close to 20 years on the two books, coming up with recipes, converting them for American audiences, testing and retesting everything. The amount of work that went into the books was astronomical.

She also discusses her start in television, and she seemed to just fall into it. She filmed a few shows for her local PBS station, and everything grew from there.

I haven't seen the movie Julie and Julia yet, and I'll probably wait until it comes out on Netflix, but I can't wait to see Meryl Streep channel this amazing woman.

Bridge of Sighs

I had forgotten how much I love Richard Russo's writing. I picked up this book while I was at my parents' house in July, and I couldn't put it down, so I "borrowed" it. (Hi mom!)

Russo has a knack for creating these complete little worlds populated with real people - so real that I could probably draw a map of his towns.

His characters aren't particularly happy or successful people, but I end up truly liking them and wanting to find out what happens next. As with Empire Falls, I didn't want this book to end because I wanted to stay with the people and see what happened next.

Mom just read his newest book and said it wasn't as good. I guess I'll wait for it to come through at the library, or just steal it the next time I'm at her house.

Street Gang

I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and the book sounded fascinating. I've always been a huge fan of "Sesame Street," so a book about the history of the show seemed right up my alley.

Unfortunately, it was a huge disappointment. The book covers so much ground leading up to the formation of Sesame Street - bios of the people involved, a history of children's television, a long section on Captain Kangaroo - that by the time we get around to the actual show, it feels almost like an afterthought. Thirty years of Sesame Street go by in a flash.

But the section about the actual show did confirm what I have long suspected - that the show is now driven by market research and polling. I watch it with my kids, and the new shows seem to have lost much of their anarchic whimsy that I loved as a kid. Plus, Elmo has completely taken over the place.