Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bedside Table

Books are burgeoning from the bedside table. I don't have a problem, honestly, I don't, it seems harmless enough to leave a couple books on the table with the lamp and the tissue box and flashlight. Except now, I can't find the flashlight under the 16 books stacked on the table. And I can't find the paperback I started two days ago. Did I put it on the table? Aha!, it must be on the table at the foot of the bed with the 30 or so left there.

Found it! This is a book that I just love, and I would never have read it if I judged books by their covers. "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan has a bouncing 10-year old on the cover, bobbed hair flying, bare legs folded, against an impossibly cerulean sky. It reminds me of the cover of a book that I liked - "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," (although the first book, "Little Altars Everywhere" is much better), but still I need a push to actually open the book and begin reading. A push like a boss saying I need to read it. And guess what? I love it. Even if I synopsize the book, you will start backing away saying "thanks, but I don't think that's my cup of tea." But give it a try.

It's a memoir. Of cancer. But it's about so much more. Corrigan is in her late 30s, married and with two young daughters, when she's diagnosed with breast cancer. Halfway through the book, her beloved daddy is diagnosed with cancer as well. The book is loaded with pop culture references to my 80s generation. I'm not sure if I expected Corrigan's voice to be the smart-aleck, been-there, done that, got the tattoo tough chick. She's honest and vulnerable, self-deprecating, but not really needy, which is good, because there's a fine line between mirth and maudlin on this journey through cancer. I'm only halfway through the book and I'm ready to make a bunch of brownies, tote them cross-country and show up for girl gab on her back deck.

More from the stacks:

1. Jacques Pepin, "More Fast Food My Way." If I could choose my parents, I would pick Chef Jacques to be my dad. I've read and cooked through most of his cookbooks & never get tired of his approach to food. This is the second tour through quick-and-easy fare, and promises to be just as yummy.

2. Anne Lamott, "Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith." The remainder table has been very good to me. Lamott could write about plumbing fixtures & I would be fascinated. Lucky for me, it's parenthood, the future of the planet, sobriety and God and Jesus.

3. Ann Cooper, "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children." The reason I have a CSA subscription. I still buy Rice Krispies instead of Kashi, but I've got to start somewhere.

4. Another from the remainder table that I haven't read yet: "These United States: Original Essays by American Writers on Their State of the Union." It's edited by the late John Leonard, whose convoluted prose made me chuckle and think. Occasionally at the same time.

5. Bill Smith, "Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook's Corner and from Home." I haven't cooked out of it yet, but it simply screams "sense of place!" Reading the recipes, I want to make something, just haven't made up my mind yet.

6. "Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine: Inn at Little Washington." Did I mention that the remainder table has been very good to me? This gorgeous book was originally published at a heart-stopping price of $45 (!). I think I paid less than $5, and I guess I can say that it's worth what I paid for it, even if I never cook from it. I usually don't go for pricey chefly ego trip books, but this one's a stunner, with O'Connell's pleasure-seeking id on overdrive. I'm not sure I'll cook from it, but the photographs and the recipes are tempting, at least on a basic level, as in without the truffle dust and Maine lobster. A soup of apple and rutabaga is bookmarked, and Little Yellow Grits Souffles, too.

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