Sunday, May 17, 2009

Last Night at the Lobster: Stewart O'Nan

This weekend I finished reading Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan. This book has been on the to be read list for awhile, so I finally requested it from the library.

I thought it was a book about the last night at a local restaurant. So in my head it was going to be this great story about everyone going to this local establishment one last time. Well the "local" restaurant was actually a Red Lobster, and I couldn't adapt to the change in the story. In my head, my version, was so much better.

That being said I don't really think I gave this book a fair shot. It was written well and has a lot of critical acclaim. It follows Manny the manager of a Red Lobster on its last open day, which happens to occur on the same day as a blizzard. The restaurant chain has decided this restaurant isn't profitable enough and is moving the manager and five of his employees to an Olive Garden. O'Nan captured the characters and restaurant life perfectly. The story follows Manny from opening up to closing the doors for the last time.

I can't say I'd recommend this book, but if someone read it without the preconceived notions I had, perhaps it would be more enjoyable.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Homemade Life: Molly Wizenberg

Another way that Peaknit and I are in sync is we both just finished A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, and we both loved it. See her post here!

Wizeberg is the writer of Orangette, a blog I will admit I was not familiar with. My college roommate Trish let me borrow the book and it was the perfect book to discover right now.

After a few books that I didn't enjoy (The Secret History, and Thanks for the Memories) A Homemade Life was perfect!

The book is a series of short stories about Wizenberg, her family, and her life, each story is capped off with a recipe. As anyone who knows me knows that I am the pickiest eater ever. Yet this book had me craving things I've never even dreamed of eating. Wizenberg's attitude was never overly pretentious, rather she's someone who genuinely enjoys food and the memories associated with it.

Her memories of food and meals had me thinking about my own food memories. Some of my favorite times with people are those when we get together cook and eat together. Growing up we always ate family dinners and even as a college student we had our own version of "family" dinners.

Wizeberg captured it perfectly when she said, "That's why this book is called A Homemade Life. Because, in a sense, that's what we're building - you, me, all of us who like to stir and whisk - in the kitchen and at the table. In the simple acts of cooking and eating, we are creating and continuing the stories that are our lives."

To put it simply...get this it...and pass it along to those who have shared your table.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Elizabeth Berg :: Home Safe


oh, elizabeth berg, you have done it again.

I read this book in a day. I love Berg, her stories tell tales of real people. The characters often have endearing quirks and insecurities. And Helen is no exception. She is the mother of an adult child and a recent widow. She is struggling in her first year as a widow. Helen was lucky to have been married to a soul mate for 30+ years and then finds herself alone and somewhat helpless - helpless, if not a little by choice. She and her husband shared fairly traditional roles and his was to take care for her. So she finds herself learning how be alone, which is so much fun to peek in on.

Her relationship with her daughter is also excruciatingly funny to watch. Helen wants to take care of her daughter but her 27-year-old independant girl will have none of it. In one chapter, Helen tries to buy a sweater for her but knows how her daughter will hate that, so wears it herself - convinced that Tessa (her daughter) will compliment her on it and then she can give it to her. I love this convoluted thinking. It's charming and adorable. Berg shares many of Helen's funny thoughts - what she says and then what she'd like to say. It lends such a fun, human quality to Helen.

Berg typically creates good friendships for her characters - enviable relationships in the strangest of circumstances - somehow I find that comforting. That in the current world we live, there is opportunity for friendship anywhere, you just have to look abd be open. Note to the author :: perhaps you should consider a novel where blog-friendships evolve - because there is an example in my life where I have found surprising comraderie *wink, wink* (yes, I am talking to you).

I am a Berg fan since forever - this one did not disappoint. Thank you!

P.S. the icing on the cake is that the author is coming to my local Barnes and Noble next week! So, while I tried to be sensible and rent a book from the library, clearly I will have to buy it so she can sign it! Oh well - the best intentions!