Book of the Week: Appetites – Anthony Bourdain

I’m a late-life cooking enthusiast and I always thought that I’d be a Cook’s Illustrated, left-brained kind of cook. But I find that Bourdain’s straight-talking, profane, behind-the-scenes voice is more for me. We all know there’s a difference between shitty tuna salad sandwich with tomato soup and a sublime version. Bourdain’s the guy to explain that difference. Ditto omelets, scrambled eggs, club sandwiches…. The man’s got opinions! For instance, here’s his page on home fries:

Home fries almost always suck….Hash browns are a better idea. But the best idea is no potatoes at all. In my view, a few well-toasted, heavily buttered slices of bread are the perfect accompaniment to an egg breakfast….They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Maybe.

“But the notion that you need a heaping gutload of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and bread is grotesque. If you have a hard time tying your shoes after breakfast, or you feel like you really, really need a nap—and you only woke up an hour ago—there’s something wrong.”

Well, alright then. (And yes, that cover is by Ralph Steadman. And know you know why. This is a cookbook with attitude.)

While I’ve been enjoying Bourdain’s tips on many home cooking standards, I’ve also been taken by new ideas like roasted cauliflower with an amazing sauce. (Per Bourdain: “This shit is compulsively delicious.”) While I’ve been terrified by recipes involving, tripe, quail, boar and lots of duck fat, carnivores are sure to enjoy the adventure. In other words, there’s something for everyone–a great read and illustrated throughout.

A really impressive media lineup should help make this one of the books of the holiday season. Bourdain will be on NPR’s Fresh Air and there will be a feature in People. He’ll be on the cover of Costco Connection in a piece about the season’s biggest cookbooks. Other NPR coverage includes Morning Edition, Marketplace Weekend, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Splendid Table. TV includes the Today show and The Chew. In print, USA Today will do a feature and as you might expect, the book will be covered in pretty much every food magazine.

[I]n what might be his most accessible book yet, Bourdain reveals his ‘Ina Garten–like need to feed the people around me’ with a terrific collection of recipes for family and friends. The blunt honesty, casual profanity, and caustic wit he’s known for are still here; much more of a real surprise is that he includes simple dishes such as scrambled eggs….Though he states that those looking for mind-blowing recipes will be better served elsewhere, readers will quickly appreciate his spot-on seasoning and ingredients in crowd-pleasing dishes such as ‘Chicken Satay with Fake-Ass Spicy Peanut Sauce’….The Korean fried chicken; duck rillettes; and calf’s liver with bacon, leeks, apples, and calvados are sure to expand palates and blow minds, and fans will appreciate his short but pointed essays on diverse topics.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Bourdain is back with his inimitable voice—funny, foul-mouthed, and unapologetically opinionated—in this tightly curated collection of recipes…Readers will be rewarded with excellent tips and a great variety of recipes, from familiar to exotic, with international flair.… [A] wild ride of a cookbook that should be on every library’s food shelves.”
Booklist (starred review)

Appetites: A Cookbook (9780062409959) by Anthony Bourdain, et al. $27.50 hardcover. 10/25/16 one day laydown.

New Fiction: The Terranauts – T.C. Boyle

Boyle’s 16th novel arrives with three starred reviews and a preview from Esquire calling it “[A] preapocalyptic tale from a master of maximalism.” Based on the true story of the Biosphere 2 experiment in the late 1980s, this comic novel feels a little like Jane Austen by way of Survivor. While keeping the tone satirical, the themes are weightier and, as always, Boyle is a master at examining human ambition, hubris and self-delusion.

It’s an Indie Next pick and coverage is set for the Washington Post, NYTBR, Wired, and the AP—with much more to come.  

[A] sprawling tale of achievement, yearning, pride, and human weakness….[T]he two-year mission exposes the fragility of interpersonal relationships and tests the limits of the human body. In a multilayered work that recalls the tragicomic realism of Saul Bellow and John Updike, Boyle observes his characters with scientific rigor and a good deal of genuine empathy…”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A virtuoso storyteller and a connoisseur of hubris, Boyle mesmerizes and provokes…Boyle is a literary star, and an all-points publicity campaign and author tour will launch this shrewd and irresistible novel of ambition and folly.”
Booklist (starred review)

“This is one of Boyle’s best-and quite possibly one of the best of the year.”
Library Journal (starred review)

The Terranauts (9780062349408) by T.C. Boyle. $26.99 hardcover. 10/25/16 on sale.

Fiction Short Take: Lost Gods – Brom

Finished copies of this were done in time for the Mountains and Plains Discovery Show last weekend and Boulder Book Store’s April Gosling reminded me of Brom’s enduring cult appeal as we were flipping through looking at the stunning illustrations. In previous books, Brom has delivered dark, lushly illustrated stories based on classic myths. Lost Gods takes a slightly new direction creating a quest story in a world of his own making but informed by mythology. Fans will not be disappointed.

Lost Gods is another solid twist of a mythological novel by Brom. Chet has sworn to do good by his girlfriend and their child. Even death can’t stop him. But when he reaches purgatory, he finds it in the middle of a war. And the key to getting back to life is in the hands of his grandfather, who is on the other side. Brom is a smart fill in for those American Gods fans as well as those who like Galilee by Clive Barker. I will always appreciate how he weaves unrelated mythologies together pretty damn seamlessly.”
–April Dawn Gosling, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO

“Chet must descend to purgatory, where, he will learn, nothing is what it seems and some things are much worse than being dead. Chet’s exciting adventures occur in an inventive hodgepodge of mythical and literary netherworlds…[F]ans of Brom’s weirdly offbeat imagination will find much to admire.”
Kirkus Reviews

Lost Gods (9780062095688) by Brom. $27.99 hardcover. 10/25/16 on sale.

Nonfiction Short Take: How to Win at Feminism – Reductress

From the creators of the website Reductress, this parody in the voice of a typical women’s magazine offers sly, smart, wickedly funny commentary on how the media has co-opted feminism in a strange and absurd ways.  Fans of The Onion will appreciate the approach—not to mention any woman jujitsued by a culture that uses feminist language to perpetuate sexism.

“The writers behind the hilarious satirical website The Reductress skewer the most ridiculous tropes and clichés of millennial-era feminism in this send-up of advice books targeted at women. An ‘official timeline of feminism’ sets the tone, marking women’s suffrage and the birth of Beyoncé as equally relevant….The writers provide shrewd commentary on the divisiveness of feminist culture in which women are pitted against and ordered to support one another at the same time. Hillary Clinton tops a list of ‘bad feminists’ because ‘her Twitter is whack.’….The text is accompanied by stock photos curated for maximum absurdity, funny fake advertisements, and graphs….[Readers who] are tired of hearing about ‘having it all’ will enjoy the irreverence.”
Publishers Weekly

How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having It All—And Then Some! (9780062439802) by Reductress. $22.99 trade paper original. 10/25/16 on sale.

Nonfiction Short Take: Not Just Jane – Shelley DeWees

Jane Austen fans will enjoy this look at Austen’s time by way of seven “lost” women authors who were her contemporaries. The book explores the social and cultural evolution that enabled them to consider writing while also constraining their possibilities. The research is detailed; the voice is spirited and fun.

“Reveal[s] the interesting lives and strong characters of these oft-forgotten writers….This book succeeds at making readers aware of the gaps in our knowledge of British literature…planting the seed that there are many treasures out there waiting for a second chance.
   — Kirkus Reviews

“Their stories are complex, involving dissolute husbands, illness, opium, and the French Revolution…[DeWees] does important work in challenging the notion of canon, pointing out that the advent of digital libraries has made many of these lesser-known works easily accessible..”
   — Publishers Weekly

“Fun…. Lovers of Austen’s books and film adaptations of her work will find much to enjoy in this informative overview of authors.”
   — Library Journal

“Interweaving the fascinating stories…and the social, cultural, and economic realities of their times, an insightful group portrait of these groundbreaking women emerges. Lively…. An important contribution to the scholarship of women’s literature.”

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature (9780062394620) by Shelley DeWees. $15.99 trade paper original. 10/25/16 on sale.

Autobiography Short Take: The Nine of Us – Jean Kennedy Smith

Here’s some Baby Boomer nostalgia for the holiday tables. Smith is the last remaining sibling of JFK, RFK and Teddy Kennedy. The mystique of the Kennedy clan still holds strong sway over my generation and this recollection of a golden childhood—with 60 family photos—is perfectly timed to the season.

“Smith is the last remaining child of Joseph and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and her tender memoir recounts the family’s early home life….Her narrative takes readers back in time to the 1930s–1950s, when the now nearly mythic Kennedy family consisted of two devoted parents and their nine children….Smith divulges domestic routines and rules; chronicles the family’s love of the ocean and sports, especially touch football, sailing, and tennis; and explores her mother’s insistence upon ‘cultivation of the mind’ and learning about the world….Smith sprinkles numerous family photos and quotes throughout the narrative, providing additional dimension. This is a sweet and loving look back at the Kennedy family.”
Publishers Weekly

The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy (9780062444226) by Jean Kennedy Smith. $29.99 hardcover. 10/25/16 on sale.

Publicity: Dylan Goes Electric! – Elijah Wald

Booksellers are being deluged by publishers this week with suggestions for books on Bob Dylan now that he has won the Nobel Prize. Let me climb on to that train with a recent title of ours:

Dylan Goes Electric covers the seminal moment in modern musical history when Bob Dylan shocked the Newport Folk Festival by playing an electric set. It was said that he “electrified one half of his audience, and electrocuted the other.” The book got great reviews and Janet Maslin said in the NYT that “it’s the agility of Mr. Wald’s thinking and his willingness to treat a long-ossified event as living history that give Dylan Goes Electric! its bite.”

Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties (9780062366696) by Elijah Wald. $15.99 trade paper. 6/14/16 on sale.