The new cookbook from Bobby Flay is taken from his popular TV show: The author/chef goes to the best of the best in their field and tries his own recipe for a particular dish against the time-tested creation of his competitor. Only one can be the winner. Our cookbook columnist says Bobby Flay's Throwdown! holds "a trove of winning recipes," and though a victor is declared in each case, readers at home can make their own decision after making both versions.
Today we're giving you two recipes for Muffuletta. A note about the winner is at the bottom, but we won't give it away here if you want to have your own challenge at home. Ready, set—cook!
1. To make the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, olives, peppers, garlic, anchovies, onion, oregano, and parsley in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth (it should be a little chunky); season with salt and pepper.
2. Slice the bread in half horizontally. Remove a little of the inside of the top crust; then slather the bottom and top halves of the bread with the dressing. Layer the meats and cheese on the bottom half of the bread and cover with the top half.
3. Wrap the sandwich tightly in foil and place on a baking sheet. Put a heavy sauté pan on top,and put a few cans inside the pan to weight it down. Refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.
Pitched as "The Shadow of the Wind meets Casablanca," the novel will be published in the United States by Atria as The Couturiere.
Here's a plot description from Publisher's Marketplace:
[The novel follows] the life of a poor seamstress from Madrid who, after being abandoned in Algiers by her lover, becomes the most sought-after couturiere in North Africa, but is embroiled in a world of spies that pass information on to the British Secret Service through a code stitched into her dress designs.
Dueñas's websitedescribes the book as a "fascinating mix of fiction and truth in which clandestine conspiracies are born inside of glamorous couture shops, casinos and grand hotels.*"
The story runs from before the Spanish Civil War through the end of World War II and takes place in Spain, Morocco and Portugal. Those might just be my three favorite countries to visit—so I am pretty darn excited about this release.
Will you look for The Couturiere?
Anyone getting up early tomorrow to watch a webcast of the Nobel Prize announcement?
You can start getting excited for BookPage's "Best of 2010" lists—coming in December!
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
William Morrow • $24.99 • ISBN 9780060594664
On sale October 5, 2010
Edgar Award-winning author and Ole Miss creative writing professor Tom Franklin has been compared to Faulkner, Harper Lee and Flannery O'Connor, and it seems like everywhere I turn, booksellers, bloggers and reviewers are recommending his newest novel. So I picked up Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (named for the Mississippi spelling rhyme, "M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter . . .") with great anticipation—not least of all because Franklin is paying BookPage a visit on Friday while he's in town for the Southern Festival of Books. (Look for an interview on our YouTube channel next week.)
The story takes place in a run-down town in rural Mississippi, where a couple of men cross paths again after a brief childhood friendship 20 years in the past. One, Silas Jones, is a black cop. The other, Larry Ott, is white and a creepy loner who loves horror novels. He's also suspected of playing a part in the disappearance of a young woman.
I won't give away more details other than to say that this is a book about secrets, regret, friendship, decay. Franklin's writing is often described as "atmospheric," and that style is absolutely displayed in Crooked Letter. BookPage has praised Franklin's "mastery of evocative language" and "taut and beautiful" prose, and I think you'll find that's the case in this excerpt. (If only I could excerpt more! I think you'll just have to read the book yourself.)
Though Larry's shop was on the outskirts of Fulsom, he lived near the community of Amos, just within Silas's jurisdiction. People from larger towns always thought Chabot was small, but it was a metropolis compared to Amos, Mississippi, which used to have a store but even that was closed now. A few paved roads and a lot of dirt ones, a land of sewer ditches and gullies stripped of their timber and houses and single-wides speckled back in the clear-cut like moles revealed by a haircut. The train from Meridian used to stop there, but now it just rattled and clanged on past. Amos's population had fallen in the last dozen years, and most people remaining were black folks who lived along Dump Road. Silas's mother had lived there, too, for a while, in the trailer the bank had repossessed. These days the population had declined to eighty-six.
He thought of M&M. Eighty-five.
Jodi Picoult has been in the news lately for talking about the discrepancy between the coverage given to male and female authors in most book review outlets (not an issue for BookPage!), but as we've mentioned before, 2011 will bring something new for her fans (and who knows, maybe that long-awaited review in the NYTBR). More details about Sing You Home (Atria) have been posted on Picoult's website:
Sing You Home explores what it means to be gay in today’s world, and how reproductive science has outstripped the legal system. Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation – two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind – enter the courtroom? And most importantly, what constitutes a “traditional family” in today’s day and age?
Are you intrigued? Do you have a favorite Picoult book?
When we posted about Ron Chernow's biography of George Washington back in April, we wondered if there is really more to say about our first president, especially after Joseph J. Ellis' 2004 biography, His Excellency: George Washington.
Washington: A Life comes out today, and BookPage reviewer Roger Bishop puts our doubts to rest, writing that the biography is "magnificently written, richly detailed and always compelling."
If you're a history buff, how's this for a recommendation?—"We now know more about [Washington] than his family, friends and other contemporaries did."
For a taste of the book, watch Chernow (winner of the National Book Award in 1990) give some biographical details on Washington:
Will you check out Washington: A Life? What book trailers have you watched recently?
This Q&A marks the launch of a new series on The Book Case: "Seven Questions with . . . " Keep your eye on the blog for more interviews with your favorite authors!
Aching for Always follows Joss O’Malley as she struggles to save her family's map-making company—and travels through time with a Navy Captain seeking revenge for wrongs of the past (committed by none other than Joss's dad). Ridgway writes that the story is a "rollicking romantic adventure through time and space . . . full of twists, turns and sizzling love scenes."
To learn more about the woman behind the novels, we asked Cready seven questions about writing, books and life. And now we can't wait for A Novel Seduction—working title—Cready's first non-time-travel romance! (Keep reading for details.)
What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
From Nora Roberts, though she didn't give it to me personally. She said when she hears writers talking about their creative muse, she wants to bitch slap them. The only method that works, she says, is the "ass in chair" method. I agree with her wholly, though in my case you'd have to extend it to be the "ass in chair, fingers on keyboard, logged off of Facebook and Gmail" method.
Of all the characters you've every written, which one is your favorite?
I have a real soft spot for Drum, the captain of the privateer in Tumbling Through Time. Maybe it's because he looks like Colin Firth (never hurts.) Maybe it's because he is such a natural seaman. Maybe it's because he ends up yearning for the heroine but not getting her. I think there are more stories ahead for Drum.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
Oh, winning the RITA. Hands down. I think it even eclipsed getting the call that my first book sold. What made the night so special, apart from winning, of course, was that not only was my husband there, but four very close friends had come in to attend as well. It was great to share the night with them. That day was also my younger sister Claire's birthday. It had been Claire's unexpected death twelve years earlier that spurred me to become a writer. I know she was watching that night. In fact, if I know Claire, she was the one who made it happen.
I've blogged a lot already about debut novels coming this winter—Tea Obrecht, Deborah Harkness and more—but perhaps the most controversial and buzzed about debut of the season comes from Benjamin Hale, an Iowa Writers Workshop graduate who is publishing his first novel with Twelve this February. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore has a provocative premise: Bruno, who has a passion for painting, has fallen in love with his trainer. When their affair costs her her job, the two set off on a road trip. Where's the controversy, you ask? Oh yeah—Bruno is a chimp.
"Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest and amazingly accomplished," promises the flap copy. Though not always a fan of narrated-by-animals novels, I'm curious about this one: Twelve publishes only 12 books a year and hence is pretty selective when it comes to their list. Will you give this one a try?
Starting in 2012, Debbie Macomber will publish six books with Ballantine Bantam Dell, including a new series set in her hometown of Port Orchard, Washington. Macomber has previously published with Mira Books, an imprint of Harlequin.
Macomber is beloved for her series such as Cedar Cove and Blossom Street; according to a press release from Random House [PDF], 130 million copies of her books are in print worldwide and four of her novels have debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In July, Macomber received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America.
Macomber writes about down-to-earth, optimistic people in small towns, and her stories have heartwarming messages. Her Christmas tales are especially popular. Although Macomber will have a new editor at Ballantine Bantam Dell, I suspect this recipe of story elements will not change!
If you're a fan of Macomber, do you have any concerns about the author moving to a new publisher? Are you hoping the move will introduce Macomber to even more readers? In a press release, Macomber said she is looking forward to a new stage in her career, "full of fresh ideas and exciting opportunities to bring [her] stories to the widest possible audience."
New York Magazine just published an interview with translator (and writer) Lydia Davis, whose most recent project is Madame Bovary. Our Well Read columnist Robert Weibezahl reviewed Davis' translation in October, saying that it "underscores how truly modern a writer Flaubert was—even by our contemporary standards."
This glimpse into the work of a translator is fascinating reading:
Her routine was to sit down, in the morning, in front of an old boxy desktop computer with no Internet connection. (“I’m undistracted here,” she says. “I can keep it very disciplined.”) Beside her keyboard she’d have Bovary in French—a secondhand copy featuring, on its cover, the familiar caricature of Flaubert, with his smooth egg head and his mustache drooping like a pair of lobster whiskers. In front of her, propped open on mismatched book stands (wooden, plastic, metal), she’d place five different translations. Then she’d crawl, word by word, through the text, stopping occasionally to consult her pile of worn-out dictionaries or to watch the way a French phrase would ripple across the different translations—how bouffées d’affadissement, for instance, would become “waves of nausea” or “stagnant dreariness” or “a kind of rancid staleness.” (Davis’s version has “gusts of revulsion.”) On a good day she’d translate three pages.
Reading these reminded me of our 2007 interview with translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky about their work on War and Peace (which a Russian-reading friend assures me is the absolute best one to read). Like Davis, the pair strive to translate tone and style as well as meaning.
"Larissa makes a complete first draft, in pencil, as literal as possible, with marginal comments on words, tone, rhythm, deliberate oddities, levels of usage, cross references to reappearances of the same word or motif. I take her draft, plus the original and other translations, and make my own complete draft, which I print out as I go (four to eight pages a day) and cover with penciled queries and uncertainties. We then go over that draft together, settling questions, arguing over choices, resorting to numerous dictionaries. From the results of that work, I then make another complete draft. Larissa reads the new draft line by line against the original, marking queries, making suggestions, and so on. Once we resolve the last problems together, I make a 'final' draft, which we send to the publisher."