|June 2015 Staff Reviews, Readings, Cookbooks, and More!
We hope you enjoy these new additions to our Staff Favorites table. Plus, check out the great author readings coming up and see our roundup of the latest books from our Cooking section.
New Staff Reviews
|Here are three new Staff Picks for you to peruse:
by Viet Thanh Nguyen
reviewed by Matt
Our narrator is aid to a South Vietnamese general in the spring of 1975. U.S. troops are evacuating, and South Vietnamese troops and civilians are scrambling to figure out what to do next. However, our narrator is also a spy for communist Vietnam. But this spy is "a man of two minds," able to sympathize with both his boss and his real superiors. The world we see through his eyes is both tragic and comic. The writing is rich with unusual descriptions ("prickly rolls of barbed wire sagged with middle-aged disappointment") of the sights and sounds and smells of end-of-war Saigon and post-war Los Angeles.
by Dylan Landis
reviewed by Michael
Now out in paperback, this debut novel is the beautifully written story of a teenage girl in New York City in the 1970s. Abandoned by her mother, Rainey lives in a ramshackle house with her charismatic jazz musician father, his creepy best friend, and a rotating cast of acolytes and hangers-on. In this sexually charged and laissez-faire environment, Rainey must learn to fend for herself. At school, she's equally awed and spurred into misdeed by the daring of her best friend, Leah. Pretty and tough, they are the mean girls. But Landis shows us how their hearts got wounded, and how near to tenderness their cruelties often are. Everyone in Rainey Royal is deeply damaged, but they're also redemptive (to varying degrees). Dylan Landis is masterful at creating vivid characters, rich scenery, and powerful internal lives. A sumptuous and bittersweet read.
by Spencer Quinn
reviewed by Sandy
Bowser is a handsome mutt adopted by Birdie on her 11th birthday. The two quickly bond and before long they are working together to solve the mystery of who stole Black Jack, the prized mounted marlin which for years hung on the wall in the bait and swamp tour shop owned by Birdie's grandmother. This is a middle school reading level book filled with all the things young readers enjoy: adventure, friendship, humor, animals, suspense, excitement, daring deeds, and even a treasure map. What makes it especially appealing is that the story is told by Bowser with his intelligent, doggie-brain mind. Similar to the author's best-selling Bernie and Chet mysteries for adults, this book is sure to please the younger crowd. Hopefully this is the first of a series.
Readings for June & July
Love in the Elephant Tent
Tuesday, June 16, 7pm
"If you live life without a net, what happens when you fall?" Kathleen Cremonesi knew early on she wanted to be different. Determined to avoid following in her mother's footsteps to an ill-fated marriage, Kathleen left Oregon in her early 20s to travel across Europe. On a whim, this former administrative assistant with wanderlust took a job as a dancer in an Italian circus and, working her way up, became an ostrich-riding, shark-taming showgirl. Kathleen bonds with the exotic animals that could strike and kill at any moment, but instead bring her a peace she has never known. And when she stumbles into the arms of Stefano, the sexy elephant keeper, she finds a man who understands her wild spirit.
Thursday, June 18, 7pm
The Portland author joins us for the paperback release of her novel Juliet's Nurse. In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the family's darkest secrets. Those secrets--and the nurse's deep personal grief--erupt across five momentous days of love and loss that destroy a daughter, and a family.
Sarai Walker (with Robin Romm)
Wednesday, June 24, 7pm
Walker will discuss her novel with Portland writer Romm. Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you're fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls' magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin. Then, when a mysterious woman starts following her, Plum finds herself falling down a rabbit hole and into an underground community of women who live life on their own terms. As Plum grapples with her personal struggles, she becomes entangled in a sinister plot. The consequences are explosive.
Tuesday, June 30, 7pm
The new novel from the author of Broken for You spins the stories of a dedicated teacher, his enigmatic son, and a wartime survivor into an affecting tale of love, loss, and handwriting. High school English teacher Charles Marlow is at the end of a road he's traveled on autopilot for years when a series of events forces him to think back on the lifetime of decisions and indecisions that have brought him to this point. With the help of an ambitious art student, an Italian-speaking nun, and the memory of a boy in a white suit who inscribed his childhood with both solace and sorrow, Charles may finally be able to rewrite the script of his life. Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones you're still searching for.
Robin McLean and Polly Dugan
Monday, July 6, 7pm
Robin McLean's award-winning debut short story collection, Reptile House, is inhabited by killers and thieves, astronauts, moose hunters and country club ladies, all seeking some way out, some new door to imagined happiness. What consequences must we face for hope and fantasy? Portland author Polly Dugan's novel, The Sweetheart Deal, is the poignant story of what happens when a woman who thinks she's lost everything has the chance to love again.
Chris Leslie-Hynan & Scott Ellsworth
Wednesday, July 8, 7pm
Portland author Chris Leslie-Hynan's novel Ride Around Shining is the story of an aimless white guy who lies his way into the world of black basketball players, bathing in their reflected glory until his adoration turns to envy and destruction. Scott Ellsworth is a Reed College graduate and former book reviewer for The Oregonian. The Secret Game is the true story of a 1943 game between Duke University and the North Carolina College for Negroes, and how a handful of forgotten college basketball players not only changed the game forever, but also helped to usher in a new America.
Kate Carroll de Gutes
Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
Tuesday, July 14, 7pm
Multnomah Arts Center instructor Kate Carroll de Gutes presents her debut essay collection. On the surface, this book considers her sexuality, gender presentation, and the end of her marriage. But, as editor Judith Kitchen says, "peel it back, begin to take it apart, both semantically and linguistically and personally, and it all comes clear." These essays are about issues we all face: growing up, identity, love, loss, and sometimes, the quest for the perfect fashion accessory. With wit matched by self-compassion and empathy, the essays offer a lesson on the inevitable journey back to the places where we begin.
Liz Prato with Stevan Allred & Joanna Rose
Baby's on Fire
Wednesday, July 29, 7pm
Multnomah Village's own Liz Prato presents her debut short story collection, Baby's on Fire. She'll be joined in conversation by her former writing instructors, Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose, of The Pinewood Table writing workshop. Stevan is the author of the story collection A Simplified Map of the Real World, published by Portland's own Forest Avenue Press. Joanna is the author of the novel Little Miss Strange. Here's what Aimee Bender said about Baby's on Fire: "Reading this book felt like talking to a good friend with good music on in the background. Liz Prato's stories are great fun to read, and funny, and warm as can be, so even when they are painful and sad, they still genuinely welcome a reader."
New in Cooking
We know you'll be tempted by these new cookbooks:
The Lemon Cookbook
by Ellen Jackson
Lemons add a fresh, tangy burst of flavor to both sweet and savory dishes and have a way of making all the other ingredients in a dish shine. From savory meals like Meyer Lemon Risotto with Dungeness Crab Tarragon, and Creme Fraiche, to sweet treats like Lemon Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Lemon Verbena and Blackberries, here are delicious recipes featuring the bright flavor of lemons. Inexpensive, easy to find, and simple to cook with, they re also good for you, containing a hit of vitamin C. What's not to love?
More Mexican Everyday
by Rick Bayless
This all-new collection teaches home cooks how to build tasty meals with a few ingredients in a short amount of time. Cooking Mexican couldn't be easier, or more delicious. Rick generously reveals the secrets of his dishes the salsas and seasonings, mojos and adobos he employs again and again to impart soul-satisfying flavor. He explains fully the classic techniques that create so many much-beloved Mexican meals, from tacos and enchiladas to pozole and mole. Home cooks under his guidance will be led confidently to making these their go-to recipes night after night.
A Bone to Pick
by Mark Bittman
His most memorable and thought-provoking columns are compiled into a single volume for the first time. As abundant and safe as the American food supply appears to be, the state of our health reveals the presence of staggering deficiencies in both the system that produces food and the forces that regulate it. Bittman leaves no issue unexamined. At once inspiring, enraging, and enlightening, A Bone to Pick
is an essential resource for every reader eager to understand not only the complexities inherent in the American food system, but also the many opportunities that exist to improve it.
by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
This book provides the step-by-step, recipe-by-recipe guidebook that will allow millions of people to experience the transformation of their entire life in just one month. The Hartwigs' approach leads to effortless weight loss and better health--along with stunning improvements in sleep quality, energy levels, mood, and self-esteem. The Whole30
features more than 100 chef-developed recipes, like Chimichurri Beef Kabobs and Halibut with Citrus Ginger Glaze, designed to build your confidence in the kitchen and inspire your taste buds..