Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - January 27, 2008

Hi everyone!

Some of the walkers - Mary, Barb, Andrea and Laila (hope I haven't left anyone out) - walked out in Lafayette on Saturday and met up with Chris at Cino's Cafe. I am sorry I missed being with all of you but I did have a wonderful day at the Tattered Cover Writers Respond to Readers event. I was happy to have met up with Lynda Parker, an old friend of Chris', and a few of her friends. They graciously invited me to have lunch with them which was just lovely.

Book Report: I'd like to tell you a little bit about each of the writers that participated in the event. I wasn't familiar with any of them and hadn't read even one of their books prior to the event. I generally do try to read at least one of the books but it really doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the presentations if you haven't gotten to do that. This was an eclectic collection of four bright, witty and entertaining young women who shared their personal stories, their writing process and readings from their books.

Tahmima Anam is a first-time novelist who was born in Bangladesh. Her novel, The Golden Age, portrays a family in East Pakistan caught up in the Liberation War of 1971 fighting for their freedom to become Bangladesh. This is the first novel in what will become a trilogy following this family prior to the war, during the conflict and finally in contemporary Bangladesh.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The experiences of a woman drawn into the 1971 Bangladesh war for independence illuminate the conflict's wider resonances in Anam's impressive debut, the first installment in a proposed trilogy. Rehana Haque is a widow and university student in Dhaka with two children, 17-year-old daughter Maya and 19-year-old son Soheil. As she follows the daily patterns of domesticity—cooking, visiting the cemetery, marking religious holidays—she is only dimly aware of the growing political unrest until Pakistani tanks arrive and the fighting begins. Suddenly, Rehana's family is in peril and her children become involved in the rebellion. The elegantly understated restraint with which Anam recounts ensuing events gives credibility to Rehana's evolution from a devoted mother to a woman who allows her son's guerrilla comrades to bury guns in her backyard and who shelters a Bengali army major after he is wounded. The reader takes the emotional journey from atmospheric scenes of the marketplace to the mayhem of invasion, the ruin of the city, evidence of the rape and torture of Hindus and Bengali nationalists, and the stench and squalor of a refugee camp. Rehana's metamorphosis encapsulates her country's tragedy and makes for an immersive, wrenching narrative

Samantha Hunt has written a novel based on the life of scientist and inventor, Nikola Tesla - The Invention of Everything Else. She did impeccable research into the entire life and work of Tesla, but the focus of the novel is on the later years of his life spent living in the classic Hotel New Yorker in New York City.
Book Description
A wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker where Tesla lives out his last days From the moment she first catches sight of the Hotel New Yorkers most famous resident on New Years Day 1943, Louisa -- obsessed with radio dramas and the secret lives of the guests -- is determined to befriend this strange man. As Louisa discovers their shared affinity for pigeons, she also begins to piece together Teslas extraordinary story of life as an immigrant, a genius, and a halfhearted capitalist. Meanwhile, Louisa-faced with her fathers imminent departure in a time machine to reunite with his late wife, and pleasantly unsettled by the arrival in her life of a mysterious mechanic (perhaps from the future) named Arthur -- begins to suspect that she has understood something about the relationship of love and invention that Tesla, for all his brilliance, never did. The Invention of Everything Else luminously resurrects one of the greatest scientists of all time, Nikola Tesla, while magically transporting us -- la Steven Millhauser and Michael Chabon -- to an early twentieth-century New York City thrumming with energy, wonder, and possibility.

Min Jin Lee was born in Korea and immigrated with her family to Queens, New York when she was 7 years old. Her first novel, Free Food for Millionaires, features characters based on her experiences growing up in New York.
From Publishers Weekly
In her noteworthy debut, Lee filters through a lively postfeminist perspective a tale of first-generation immigrants stuck between stodgy parents and the hip new world. Lee's heroine, 22-year-old Casey Han, graduates magna cum laude in economics from Princeton with a taste for expensive clothes and an "enviable golf handicap," but hasn't found a "real" job yet, so her father kicks her out of his house. She heads to her white boyfriend's apartment only to find him in bed with two sorority girls. Next stop: running up her credit card at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Casey's luck turns after a chance encounter with Ella Shim, an old acquaintance. Ella gives Casey a place to stay, while Ella's fiancé gets Casey a "low pay, high abuse" job at his investment firm and Ella's cousin Unu becomes Casey's new romance. Lee creates a large canvas, following Casey as she shifts between jobs, careers, friends, mentors and lovers; Ella and Ted as they hit a blazingly rocky patch; and Casey's mother, Leah, as she belatedly discovers her own talents and desires. Though a first-novel timidity sometimes weakens the narrative, Lee's take on contemporary intergenerational cultural friction is wide-ranging, sympathetic and well worth reading

Heidi Julavits is a journalist, author and founding editor of The Believer Magazine, a literary journal. She has written three novels, the latest of which is The Uses of Enchantment. I have to admit that I did start listening to this book on my Ipod but lost interest part way through. After hearing Heidi yesterday, I am now interested in picking it up again.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. On November 7, 1985, Mary Veal, 16, a not especially distinguished upper-middle-class girl, disappears from New England's Semmering Academy. A month later she reappears at Semmering, claiming amnesia, but hinting at abduction and ravishment. The events in Believer editor Julavits's third, beautifully executed novel take place on three levels: one, dedicated to "what might have happened," is the story of the supposedly blank interval; another is dedicated to the inevitable therapeutic aftermath, as Mary's therapist, Dr. Hammer, tries to discover whether Mary is lying, either about the abduction or the amnesia; and the present of the novel, which revolves around the funeral of Mary's mother, Paula, in 1999. There, Mary feels not only the hostility of her sisters, Regina (an unsuccessful poet) and Gaby (a disheveled lesbian) but Paula's posthumous hostility. Or is that an illusion? This structure delicately balances between gothic and comic, allowing Julavits to play variations on Mary's life and on the '80s moral panic of repressed memory syndromes and wild fears of child abuse. While Julavits (The Effect of Living Backwards) sometimes lets an overheated style distract from her central story, as its various layers coalesce, the mystery of what did happen to Mary Veal will enthrall the reader to the very last page.

Website of the Week: - when we were having lunch yesterday, we talked about forming women's groups. Lynda told us about friends of hers who have developed a format for facilitating a women's group (could be a men's group also). Check out this website for more details on what they are doing.

Podcast of the Week: - part of the Quick and Dirty Tips series - short, succinct podcast answering common legal questions.

Vocabulary Word of the Week - diatribe
Pronunciation: diatribe

Latin diatriba, from Greek diatribē pastime, discourse, from diatribein to spend (time), wear away, from dia- + tribein to rub — more at throw
1archaic : a prolonged discourse2: a bitter and abusive speech or writing3: ironic or satirical criticis

Cooking and Dining Report:

Not much cooking going on here this week but here's the recipe I'm using tonight for Linguine with Clam Sauce from Fine Cooking Magazine:

Serves two to three.
24 littleneck clams
6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dry white wine
5 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
3 large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
8 oz. linguine or spaghettini (I like De Cecco, Due Pastori, and Rustichella d’Abruzzo brands)
Freshly ground black pepper

how to make
Scrub the clams under cold water and set aside. In a heavy 3-qt. saucepan, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil over medium heat. Add the pepper flakes and cook briefly to infuse the oil, about 20 seconds. Immediately add the wine, 2 Tbs. of the chopped parsley, and half of the minced garlic. Cook for 20 seconds and add the clams.

Cover and cook over medium-high heat, checking every 2 minutes and removing each clam as it opens. It will take 5 to 6 minutes total for all the clams to open. Transfer the clams to a cutting board and reserve the broth. Remove the clams from the shells and cut them in half, or quarters if they’re large. Return the clams to the broth. Discard the shells.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until it’s almost al dente, 6 to 9 minutes. Don’t overcook.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 3 Tbs. chopped parsley and the rest of the garlic and cook until the garlic is just soft, about 1 minute. Set the skillet aside.

When the pasta is done, reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Add the pasta, the clams, and the broth the clams were cooked in to the skillet. Return to low heat, toss the pasta in the sauce, and simmer for another minute to finish cooking it, adding a little of the pasta water if you prefer a wetter dish.

Taste for salt and add a large grind of black pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with the parsley leaves.

From Fine Cooking 88, pp. 69

Have a great week ahead!


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