Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Because You're Paranoid....

...doesn't mean no one will try to frame you for murder.

by Linwood Barclay

Sci-fi writer Zach Walker is a character. Paranoid about safety and security issues, he drives his family nuts. To teach his wife a lesson about supermarket security, he “steals” her unattended purse from the shopping cart, then realizes he has taken the wrong woman’s purse. When that woman turns up murdered, Zach is in trouble up to his eyeballs, and enlists the aid of his neighbors, who turn out to have secrets of their own. Despite the dead bodies turning up, this has the feel of an amusing romp and Zach is a funny, self-deprecating anti-hero.

Visit Linwood Barclay's website

Reviewed by Barbara

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jhumpa Lahiri's Newest is a Winner

I just read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, and it was one of those books which had me savoring every word and feeling sad when I finished it. These are short stories which are almost the length of novellas. I am, in fact, still thinking about the last set of stories entitled Hema and Kaushik.

She writes beautifully. Her style is spare and you read it slowly because you don’t want to miss one word. She has a gift for picking just the right moment to capture in the lives of her characters and of ending in a way that is different than one would expect.

I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Gail
Slate review of Unaccustomed Earth

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Pollan’s follow up to The Omnivore’s Dilemma examines the issue of what we eat by looking at the modern Western diet as a product of what he calls “nutritionism.” According to Pollan, nutritionism is an ideology which states that “Foods are essentially the sum of their nutrient parts.” He argues that by taking the nutrients out of the context of the foods in which they naturally occur, and by taking food out of the context of culture, we are destroying relationships that have developed over centuries. This, combined with the industrialization of food production at all levels, has resulted in a host of diseases that currently plague Western nations. Pollan’s solution to this problem is what he calls the “Eater’s Manifesto,” which states “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables.” Easier said than done. The author spends that latter part of the book laying out a loose plan that will enable the average person to live according to the Manifesto. For example, if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it. He offers many other bits of advice as well, covering everything from where our food should be grown (locally, if possible) to how we should eat it (not alone, and certainly not in the car.)
Though very well researched and thoroughly footnoted, In Defense of Food is very readable. Pollan’s common sense examination of nutrition fads (oat bran bagel, anyone?) points out the ridiculous extremes we now go to in order to satisfy “scientific” requirements that may be proven baseless by the very next study to come along. He makes a strong argument for completely changing our current relationship with food. His presentation is both entertaining and informative, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in diet, health, or our current food culture.
Reviewed by Macaire
Michael Pollan's website

Monday, April 21, 2008

Looking for good mysteries?

Julie reads more mysteries than anyone I know, and she likes to discover new authors. Try these two she recommends.

An Unquiet Grave by P.J. Parrish
Mystery, suspense, thrills, chills.this book has it all! When a cemetery connected to a deserted sanitarium is dug up for relocation and one of the caskets contains rocks, Louis Kincaid steps in to investigate. Winner of the Thriller and the Shamus awards, An Unquiet Grave is not for the squeamish but it's one that once you start it, you just can't put it down! I know I'll be reading more of P.J. Parrish.
See P.J. Parrish's website for more information.

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
This historical mystery takes place in 1830 Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire.
Our detective is Investigator Yashim, one of the court eunuchs. Yashim leads us on a tour of the city, introducing us to the culture, charms and treachery of that particular place and time while solving the mystery of 4 murdered soldiers. This was a fascinating and exotic read and the winner of the Edgar Award best novel.
Jason Goodwin's website