Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

 

Tennessee Williams was a great experimental playwright who achieved tremendous commercial success on Broadway. Many of the characters he created are iconic: Amanda, Laura, Blanche, Stanley, Maggie, Big Daddy, and Brick. John Lahr deftly examines Williams’s life in relationship to his plays, and one comes away with a greater appreciation of Williams’s genius. Williams is the great American playwright, and arguably the great American writer—an honor traditionally reserved for novelists, but I would make a case for him. –Greg

Holiday Recommendations from Our Staff – Cooking and Spirits

The Flavor Thesaurus: A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook

The Flavor Thesaurus
By Niki Segnit

This is the perfect book for the cook who is ready to move beyond strict reliance on recipes and experiment more. The book is organized around a flavor wheel. Choose one ingredient and author Segnit offers up descriptions of the taste and sensory experience of various pairings. A sampling from the book: “Anchovy and olive: Like a couple of shady characters knocking around the port in Nice. Loud and salty, they take a sweet, simple pizza margherita and rough it up a bit.” Great, delicious fun! – Laurie

 

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan CookbookVeganomicon
By Isa Moskowitz
This is the only cookbook I own that requires no tweaks or changes to the recipes. Want perfection every time? This book is full of recipes that will have you shouting, “Get in my belly!” – Justus
Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and PastryHome Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry
by Hanne Risgaard
I have always had a love for bread with substance, hearty and crusty. Danish baker Hanne Risgaard has written a beautiful book for the home baker. The recipes are impossible to resist! Holiday cheers! – Greg

Japanese Farm FoodJapanese Farm Food
by Nancy Hachisu
Nancy Hichisu’s gorgeous new cookbook will help you expand your knowledge & enjoyment of Japanese home cooking. It’s all in the ingredients, after all, & her approach is refreshing: few ingredients, no prefab, add a little chili or ginger, though it’s not traditional. Love her miso eggplant shisho. These are not the same-old recipes. – Karen
Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin AmericaGran Cocina Latina
By Maricel E. Presilla
Here is a cookbook that every cook and/or chef should own. Everything you want and need to learn about Latin American cooking is in these pages. Destined to become a classic! And a great gift! – Carl

FävikenFäviken
By Magnus Nilsson
Magnus Nilsson is regarded as one of the great chefs in the world today. Fäviken is his restaurant. They grow and raise all the food that is served. Most importantly, it is seasonal. You will be blown away by the creativity and more importantly you may be inspired to eat and cook in a different way. Eat, Drink, & Be Merry. – Greg
Jerusalem: A CookbookJerusalem: A Cookbook
By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Ottolenghi and Tamimi have created a cookbook that reflects the wonderful diversity of the Palestinian and Israeli food that they both grew up with, and these dishes are well within the reach of the average home cook. As with Ottolenghi’s previous book, Plenty, the pictures of the food are enticiing, and the photos of the city of Jerusalem are inseparable from the feast. Food: the great unifier. As Ottolenghi and Tamimi say, “…it takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it…to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalem together, if nothing else will.” – Greg

Spring Booknotes from Our Staff – Children’s & YA

Oh No, George!

by Chris Haughton (Candlewick)

When the young boy goes out, he leaves his dog George home alone and asks him to be good. But when George sees his favorite food is he able to resist? When George spots the cat will he give him chase? Will George dig in the dirt? When the boy comes home and finds George has not been good he takes George for a walk, and George is again faced with the same temptations. Can he be good this time? The bright, child-like art of this funny picture book will have kids smiling as George tries his best to meet the challenge to be good. –Holly

Magritte’s Marvelous Hat

by D.B. Johnson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

For those who love the paintings of René Magritte this lovely and surreal new picture book is certain to please. “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see,” the famous artist is quoted as saying, and that is certainly true for this imaginative tale of a painting dog who buys a wondrous new bowler hat. Two sets of special see-through pages create simple magic, and the major art of the main character’s celebrated namesake figures prominently throughout with a humorous canine twist. Take a look! –David

The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math

by Sean Connolly (Workman)

Can you survive Pizza Peril and not lose your new job? Or death by Zombies on The Rope Bridge? You can with a bit of thinking and some advice from your old pal Euclid. This collection of math word problems will entertain and engage as adventurers use math skills to escape dire situations. Plenty of space is provided to work out the problem (and hints on what skills are needed too). The solution isn’t merely laid out at the end of the chapter but worked out in a math lab that translates the principles involved into a hands-on experiment. Fun math tips and tricks are peppered throughout the book too. Make friends with your inner math nerd! –Holly

A Greyhound of a Girl

by Roddy Doyle (Amulet)

Roddy Doyle is a writer who never disappoints me. Doyle’s story is of twelve-year-old Mary O’Hara, her mother Scarlett, her Granny, and a mysterious woman Mary meets named Tansey. Tansey, in fact, turns out to be the ghost of Mary’s Great Grandmother. The story is full of humor and sentiment that touches one’s heart. Doyle writes dialogue like no other, sharp and humorous. His characters grab life and embrace it with all their being. I loved this book and you will too. Read it to the family. -Greg

Grave Mercy

by Robin LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In the 1400s, Brittany was still its own country, constantly fighting off France’s relentless advances. In Robin LaFevers’s fearless new fantasy, all that stands between Brittany’s freedom and its subjugation is a gaggle of nuns at a convent. But these women are not what they seem; sworn handmaidens of the god of death, they are highly trained assassins. On her first mission, seventeen-year-old Ismae is sent to bring a traitor to justice, but what seems a simple kill is just the first snowfall of an avalanche of betrayal and treachery. Fans of Graceling and The Hunger Games will lose themselves in LaFevers’s gorgeous mythology. –Leighanne

The Great Cake Mystery

by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor)

Great detectives are born, as is the case with Precious Ramotswe, founder of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the highly popular adult mystery series. In her very first case, after a piece of cake and other food goes missing at her school one of Precious’s classmates is accused of thievery. But Precious is not convinced of who the thief is and vows to uncover the true culprit. Young readers will be introduced to the clever mind and good heart of this beloved character while being introduced to the landscape and culture of Africa. –Holly

Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.

Holiday Recommendations from Our Staff – Cooking & Spirits

At the Elliott Bay Book Company we believe that there is no better gift than a book, and we have the perfect one for everyone on your holiday list this season. We look forward to serving you and wish you Happy Holidays!

Home Made

By Yvette van Boven, Oof Verschuren

From a Dutch chef, living part-time in Paris, comes this most beautifully designed cookbook, with recipes ranging from tea to cocktails to cheeses, to roasting, smoking and preserving, from morning recipes to late night treats, and from birthday party suggestions to what one might cook for a funeral! The clear instructions and cheerful enthusiasm will probably inspire even the armchair cookbook reader (like me) to savor the descriptions, and then start cooking. —Erica

By Ferran Adrià

Before the service begins at el Bulli restaurant, the entire staff sits down to the “family meal”—casual, relaxing and satisfying. This is a meal that needs to sustain the wait staff throughout the long night, as the restaurant business demands. It is also a meal that brings the staff together as a team. The meals are simple and well thought out, much as your own family meal is. These recipes are for real people, real families with real ingredients, yet they make you feel elevated above the usual. Look inside as see the clear and precise photographs, the simple daily menus and the easy to follow recipes—your mouth will begin watering. —Tracy

Fergus Henderson said, “Once you knock an animal on the head it is only polite to eat the whole animal.” Jennifer McLagan shows the cook how to do exactly that. She is an advocate for sustainable farming and ethical animal husbandry. It is only right that we show respect for the animal whose life we take to live by eating it “nose to tail.” This is a perfect finish to McLagan’s two previous books Bones and Fat. —Greg

By Daniel Holzman, Michael Chernow, Lauren Deen

Who does not love meatballs? These authors/cooks make 4,000 meatballs a day at their Manhattan restaurant. These recipes are simple and delicious, from their kitchen to your kitchen. Mangia! —Carl

By Christina Tosi, David Chang

When David Chang’s Momofuku cookbook came out two years ago, I eagerly flipped to the index to find the recipes for the baked delights that have garnered a tremendous cult following in New York and have elevated Chang to near godlike status among stoners with the munchies. Alas, there were no Compost Cookies, no Candybar Pie, no Birthday Cake recipes in that volume. Now, at last Momofuku Milk Bar pasty chef Tosi makes with the goods and allows the rest of us to play Willy Wonka in our kitchens at home. —Jamil

A roast conjures images of holidays and special celebrations. So yes, this cookbook is perfect for the season at hand. But to relegate it to the shelves only to pull it out for those momentous occasions would be a shame. Along with lavish dishes like Sear-Roasted Chateaubriand with Béarnaise Sauce are impressive yet simple ones like Roasted Asparagus Bundles Wrapped in Bacon. The well organized recipes include method, roasting time, plan ahead time, and a wine pairing. Her exhaustive notes on the why and how of roasting, shopping tips and necessary equipment make this an indispensable volume for the novice and expert alike. —Pamela

If Maira Kalman decided to illustrate a roll of toilet paper I’d find a way to get my hands on it. But lucky for us her latest project is to bring Pollan’s best selling manifesto on the importance of eating wisely to quirky, colorful life. Pollan boils down the essentials and Kalman adds a dash of whimsy to these bite-sized instructions for pleasurable, healthy eating. Bon appetit! —Laurie

By Maggie Savarino

Seattle mixologist Savarino gives us exciting concoctions that are geared towards the individual seasons. Warm and cozy drinks for winter, refreshing and light drinks for summer. Ingredient lists are seasonal. You will be inspired to throw cocktail parties all year with this guide! —Hilary

It’s not the holidays until the wine is spiced, the toddy is hot, the coffee is Irish, the cake is rummed and the egg is sufficiently nogged. If you’re not sloshed by Solstice, you might consider going shot-for-shot with F. Scott Fitzgerald, American literature’s favorite lush. (Oh, and folks, please drink responsibly.) —Dave

Summer Booknotes from Our Staff – Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror

Millennium People
by J. G. Ballard (Norton)

What if the middle class decided it was the new proletariat—became a group so oppressed and restless that they refused to pay their mortgages, set their BMWs ablaze, and pulled their kids from private school—rioting in the streets over the price of parking, and the incessant mendacity of dinner parties? The unveiling of J.G. Ballard’s posthumous publication, Millennium People, will explore the possibilities of how and why such a revolution could occur, and might just make you wonder why it hasn’t already. –Candra


The Last Werewolf
by Glen Duncan (Knopf)

Vampires…please. Zombies…so 2006. Here at last is the novel that gives werewolves their depraved literary due with a toothsome lupine grin (but also a genuine heart). Although, at their basest, these creatures are but beasts who fornicate incessantly and eviscerate innocent victims to slake their monthly bloodlust, they are also part human, which elevates them with superior intelligence and emotional complexity. This humorously macabre debauch follows the exploits of Jake Marlowe who is precisely the type of impeccably dressed, perfectly coiffed werewolf you might see drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s—although in Jake’s case it would probably be a Scotch. –Jamil


Embassytown
by China Miéville (Del Rey)

On Arieka, a distant planet populated by humans and an indigenous race called the “Host,” a delicate balance is kept between species. Genetically enhanced ambassadors are the only people who can communicate directly with these enigmatic, seemingly benevolent creatures. But when a new ambassador arrives in Embassytown, the equanimity that once reigned may never be again, and Avice, a human colonist recently returned to Arieka, may be the lone voice of reason. Miéville turns his inimitable eye to science fiction in this tale of the machinations of aliens and men, proving that whatever subject he takes on will thrill literary audiences. –Casey S.


The Map of Time
by Félix J. Palma (Atria)

Our omniscient narrator takes us on an adventure in Victorian London with author H.G. Wells and Time as our central protagonists. This is genre-busting historical fantasy of the first order, in which three different narratives cross one another. Wells’s own novel, The Time Machine, has made the public desire time travel, and showman Gilliam Murray comes along to fulfill that desire. Can this be for real? What happens if the fabric of time is messed with? To find out you’re going to have to read Palma’s glorious “scientific romance.” –Greg

An Interview with Jessica Francis Kane

I had the good fortune to host Jessica Francis Kane at Elliott Bay in the fall of 2010 for her novel, The Report. I subsequently put it on our staff recommendation wall. When Melville House Publishing sponsored the Indie Booksellers Choice Awards, an Indie Book Award for Independent presses voted on by Independent booksellers, Jessica’s book was the first that came to my mind and I nominated it. Charles Day at Melville House suggested that I might like to interview Jessica based on my staff recommendation. Jessica’s book is exceptional, so I enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity. The following is the result of that enterprise. –Greg

On hearing the story of the WWII catastrophe at Bethnal Green, which became the genesis for your novel The Report, was this a story that struck you as good material for a work of fiction? Did the story grab you immediately or was there something else which caused you to seriously consider it for a fictional treatment?

I risk melodrama here, but I have wondered, did someone in the crush that night pray her life would not end in vain? How else did this story reach up and grab me out of the great maw of history? I have absolutely no connection to it other than that I lived in London for three years from 1998-2001. I did not have a grandparent who was in the crush or lived in the neighborhood. I do not even have a relative that has been hurt or killed in a great public tragedy or natural disaster. But something about this story compelled me, and after 9/11 I saw in it a way to write about what guilt and blame do to individuals and a community after a disaster, and the tragedy of misunderstanding when the needs of people suffering are opposed to the concerns of government. I thought it would make an important and heartbreaking story, if I could get it right.

Obviously the character of Laurence Dunne was a public figure, so there is some public record of his work and achievements, while many of the victims were just average people living in London’s East End. How did you go about imagining the people who lost their lives that night?

A lot of reading and thinking! Obviously, first and foremost, I read about the lives of Londoners during the war. A book I found enormously helpful was Norman Longmate’s How We Lived Then. I was interested in the characters who emerge, good and bad, in any time and place where refugees arrive into a settled population. It’s a difficult and fascinating problem. By all accounts the East End, absorbing so many Jewish refugees during the war, was a success. But there were tensions and the book explores what happens when a community, even a close-knit one, is pushed to its breaking point. I needed a range of characters who would represent this community, and who I could put in several different spots the night of the tragedy.

Where did the framing device of the documentarian come from to tell the story?

That idea came later when I began to realize I was less interested in answers than consequences and reverberations. I wanted to think about how tragedies are endured and reinterpreted, so I needed to allow for a lot of time to pass. Errol Morris’s “The Fog of War,” an astonishing film about what time does to our perspective, was a big influence. I wanted to turn the tables on Laurie (Laurence Dunne) the way that film turns them on [Robert] McNamara. I wanted tragedy and reckoning, immediacy and reflection. A young documentarian, someone seeking to understand the tragedy anew 30 years later, seemed right.

While doing your research when or how did you know you had done enough and that you now needed to trust your imaginative instinct?

I fear my research was not proper or methodical. It always felt sporadic and haphazard. I doubt a historian would read Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs to better understand crowd behaviour, but I did. I studied the shelter drawings of Henry Moore and thought about what it would take for people to want to go underground to sleep. I took a lot of notes at first, but eventually hit on a method that let me off the hook a bit: I decided that the details I could remember without the benefit of notes were likely to be the best ones to make convincing fiction. So I began to write and research simultaneously and began to trust myself to remember what I needed. Eventually, I began to get confused about what I’d read and what I’d written and that seemed like a good sign.

Do you feel there is a common thread which runs through your fiction? Are there particular experiences, ideas, or questions which reoccur in your work?

With only one story collection and one novel, I feel barely ready to answer this question! But it’s a good one, and I am thinking about it because I’ve just been working with my editor on the table of contents for my second collection of stories. I think adult/child relationships interest me, especially the pain of lost respect. The difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us is another theme. The caustic effect of blame. Nostaglia; failing to learn from the past. But really, I hope to leave this question to my readers and critics. It is always fascinating to read this kind of summary judgment in a review or email from someone who has read my work.

Are there writers or other artists who have had an influence on you as a writer?

I come back again and again to Graham Greene and Penelope Fitzgerald as twin guideposts of some kind. But I try to read widely and when I’m really reading hard and well I can learn something from anyone. Questions of perspective and voice, the problem of handling time and narrative tension—they are perennial and solvable so many different ways.

How does writing a novel compare and contrast with writing short stories and do you value one over the other?

It certainly took me a long time to figure out how to write a novel, almost 10 years with an abandoned one along the way. But by the time The Report was done, I knew I wanted to do it again. In the meantime, I’ve returned to writing stories and I’m loving that. So I hope to keep writing both, with the occasional essay here and there, and maybe even a play some day.

Learn more about The Report from Jessica’s The Morning News essay “Caught Telling Fiction“.

JESSICA FRANCIS KANE is the author of the short story collection, Bending Heaven, which was published in the US (Counterpoint, 2002) and the UK (Chatto & Windus, 2003). Awards and honors for her work include the Lawrence Foundation Prize, fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Special Mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in many publications, including Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, The Missouri Review, Narrative, and Granta. Her essays and humor pieces have appeared in Salon, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Morning News, where she is a contributing writer. Her first novel, The Report, was published by Graywolf Press in September 2010. It was a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, the Grub Street Book Prize for Fiction, and a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick. It was published in the UK by Portobello Books in March 2011. A new collection of stories is forthcoming from Graywolf Press.

Summer Booknotes from Our Staff

A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles (McSweeney’s)

Sayles has written a stunning, epic, panoramic, historical novel that reminds me of the writing of Dos Passos. Beginning in 1897, and spanning a five-year period, Sayles captures the era which includes the Yukon gold rush, a white insurrection in North Carolina, and the U.S. imperialist wars in Cuba and the Philippines. It is the “little people” who make the story. The scope and depth of this novel is hard to match. This is one of my favorite types of novels, historical and political, played out on the large stage of the world, and so all-embracing that it is positively Whitman-esque. –Greg

John Sayles joins us in the bookstore this evening, Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 7 pm. If you would like a signed copy of A Moment in the Sun, please give us call at 206-624-6600 or toll free at 1-800-962-5311 and we would be happy to hold a book for pick up or send one out by mail.


Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall by Will Self (Grove)

In his new book, a perpetually wayward Will Self investigates all manner of madness the only way he knows how—by strapping on his boots and walking to airports. Staged as a “memoir,” we follow the author as he meanders from London to LA to Yorkshire Cliffs. Along the way, he gleefully prods at conceptual art, dissects a bloated, self-reflexive Hollywood, repeatedly catalogs his compulsive disorders, and peers into the void of his own diminishing mind. A fantastical skewering of psychosis and modern culture, Walking to Hollywood is yet another riotous trip from this mordant and masterful twenty-first century satirist. –Matthew



Booknotes, the newsletter of The Elliott Bay Book Company, is written entirely by bookstore staff. It represents a sampling of recently published books that we have enjoyed reading. We appreciate every opportunity to assist in finding books to meet your interests.