I’ve been on a reading binge the past few months, working my way through that never ending stack of books by my bedside that never seems to shrink because I keep ordering and finding new ones faster than I can get through them. On a recent location scout trip through Mississippi (that’s another post entirely which I cannot wait to share…), I stumbled on a truly special indie bookstore in Pass Christian, a small town on the gulf coast. The book store, which bears the town’s name, was filled with all kinds of gems including Casey Parks’ Diary of a Misfit, A Memoir and a Mystery, which I am in the middle of now and loving. Keep reading for more book magic from all corners.
Soft Skull Press has two books in my stack right now. One from my old Bard professor Lynne Tillman, a raw exploration of her years taking care of her ailing mother, which comes in a too timely moment when I am taking care of my own 85 year old mother. The conflict, guilt and difficulty of caretaking is a complicated feeling to say the least, one that she bravely dives into in Mothercare. The other is a newly published novel, Tell Me I’m An Artist by Chelsea Martin, which I bought as a birthday gift (one of many…) for myself at Book Soup in West Hollywood, a favorite book store of mine which I am thrilled to see is surviving.
Since it’s Paris fashion week it seems only fitting to mention Ines de la Fressange’s latest, appropriately called Happiness, The Art of Togetherness, from Flammarion and Rizzoli. Full of ‘bon mots’ and sweet life lessons, which in these times of anxiety, stress and impending fascism on the western front we can all use a little more of. Unrelated to the book but imperative and vital side note: please vote blue in the midterms if you don’t want all of your great books burned in a conservative religious cult fire. Anyway, back to the books… I was completely taken by Little Rabbit from Alyssa Songsiridej, which I devoured over two days. It’s a fun read and reminded me of my Bard MFA years…
Although Jen Agg’s memoir came out in 2017 I just recently stumbled on I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, which I LOVED. I’m always a fan of food memoirs, fascinated by chefs and restaurants (fine, I totally dream of having a little cafe one day soon), and this one is not only a great overview of the challenges any restaurant faces but especially the insanity of being a woman in a (still) predominantly “man’s industry.” Something we can sadly continue to relate to… Jen, who seems brilliant and confident has been called a “bitch,” like the rest of us with opinions and the nerve to say them out loud, is a badass in every way. I love her. A great follow up was Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman. The full name of this historical trove, “How Food lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New American Profession,” sums it up perfectly. Reading these two back to back was fantastic. Next up is another memoir, Notes From a Young Black Chef by Joshua David Stein and Kwame Onwuachi.