Archive for the ‘Bloomsbury Books’ Tag

Life’s Joys and Sorrows   Leave a comment

Zorrie is the title character in Laird Hunt’s novel about a woman whose life is defined by loss, love and the tenacity to keep moving forward.

Following the death of her parents, Zorrie lives with a joyless aunt until the age of 21 when she leaves her hometown in rural Indiana to find her place in the world. She’s undaunted traveling alone and sleeping under the stars. She gets to Illinois where she eventually finds employment at a radium factory painting the numbers on clock faces. The townspeople call the young women who work there “ghost girls” thanks to the radioactive material that makes them glow – something that is haunting. Although she makes enduring friendships with other young women, Zorri makes her way back to Indiana.

This is a terse novel with little embellishment, much like Zorri’s life. Despite this, the descriptions of the community, farms and hardscrabble existence of Zorri and her neighbors are vivid. She’s a no-nonsense, kind and hardworking person.

Soon after returning to Indiana, she marries Harold, the son of the older couple with a spare room to let. Hunt’s adroit narrative leaves the reader as surprised as Zorri by the depth of her relationship with Harold.

The depression, World War II and other events of the mid-20th century impact Zorri’s life in profound ways. Still, her resiliency and Hunt’s ability to highlight beauty among mundane daily routines make for an engaging novel. Zorri may not articulate appreciation for what she has, but it’s evident nonetheless.

Zorri

Almost-four bookmarks

Bloomsbury Books, 2021

161 pages

FUDS: What’s Not For Dinner   Leave a comment

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FUDS: A Complete Encyclofoodia by Alfredo & Antonio Mizretti is neither for the weak of stomach nor the humorless. Let’s start with the fact it’s actually written by Kelly Hudson, Dan Klein and Arthur Meyer. This trio has taken the mystique and the occasional arrogance often associated with haute cuisine out of the kitchen and onto the equivalent of a culinary comedy stage.

The authors are irreverent, silly and occasionally gross in the manner of pre-adolescents. They’re also fun and creative. Although the book is “Dedicated to Food,” it could easily be earmarked for those who love food and don’t mind heavy-handed metaphorical flavoring.

The Mizretti personas assumed by the true authors are twin brothers who grew up in Denver eating Mama Mizretti’s homemade specialties, which, according to Alfredo and Antonio “was awful.” Eventually, they open a restaurant, FUDS, in Brooklyn with only three items on the menu.

The content is ridiculous, but for anyone interested in food, and not so full of him or herself that a good laugh can’t be appreciated, it’s entertaining.

The book is comprised of several chapters related to the Mizrettis’ background, food basics a la FUDS, satirical descriptions of kitchen tools and several chapters of recipes – the kind made up at summer camp or on a college campus. Some are, frankly, gross. All are absurd.

A little FUDS go a long way. Its 160 pages, of which many are illustrations, is just about the right length. Of course, it also lends itself to return reads.

FUDS: A Complete Encyclofoodia from Tickling Shrimp to Not Dying in a Restaurant
Four Bookmarks (0 plates)
Bloomsbury, 2015
160 pages