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Monday, November 20th, 2017
Book Reviews

Recommended Reading... From Paris to Mississippi

Justin Spring 

The Gourmands’ Way – Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Gastronomy has become an anthropological specialty. What did Julia Child, A.J. Liebling, M.F.K. Fisher, Richard Olney, Alexis Lichine and Alice B. Toklas have in common? All lived a significant time in Paris, loved cooking, eating and writing about French food and wine, and tried with varying success to earn their living doing one or all three. Spring’s narrative (post-WWII to the early ‘70s) chronicles the heady, unhappy love affair between Paris and the USA. The rise of convenience cooking, celebrity chefs, and gourmet mass marketing was bound to have fallout, but Spring makes what happened seem almost inevitable.

- Bruce Collier


Jesmyn Ward

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Scribner

Sing, Unburied, Sing was recently announced as a finalist for this year’s National Book Award in fiction. The author won the National Book Award back in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones. Sing, Unburied, Sing is a slow, heavy and beautifully written story told from three perspectives—Jojo, a biracial boy living with his mother and grandparents in Mississippi and the primary caretaker for his toddler sister Kayla; Leonie, Jojo and Kayla’s drug addicted and basically negligent mother; and Richie, the spirit of someone important in Jojo and Kayla’s grandfather’s past. The story follows the dysfunctional family’s quest (which seems to allude in many ways to the quest in Homer’s The Odyssey) to pick up Leonie’s boyfriend and the children’s father Michael from Mississippi State Penitentiary. Reading this story is an emotional experience—it is very sad and often uncomfortable, but still rewarding. The language is beautiful, the story important, and the author deserves every award coming her way.

- Marilu Morgan