In Wellesley, MA, where I went to college, there was one truly excellent restaurant near campus—the kind of place you couldn't afford unless parents (or a hot date!) were treating, or maybe on a special occasion. The restaurant's called Blue Ginger, and diners from all over Massachusetts come to feast on Chef Ming Tsai's "East-West" cuisine.
So, I was happy to see that Tsai is publishing another cookbook in November of this year. Called Simply Ming One-Pot Meals: Quick, Healthy & Affordable Recipes, the Asian-influenced recipes will feature ingredients you can find at a local market. Also, "every recipe will track its salt and fat intakes, calories, and allergens (keeping it healthful), every dish will cost under $20, and you'll only have to use one vessel in which to cook," according to a pre-pub blurb.
Tsai has already published several cookbooks: Blue Ginger, Simply Ming, and Ming's Master Recipes. Have you discovered his delicious dishes yet?
Just about everybody on the BookPage staff who has read Rebecca Stead's Newbery-winning novel When You Reach Me has raved about it. (I am most guilty, posting here and here—and don't miss our post-Newbery Q&A with Stead.) I loved spunky sixth-grade narrator Miranda. I loved how Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was subtly integrated into the plot. I loved how Stead depicted a realistic relationship between mother and daughter. And I loved the combination of mystery and fantasy.
So, I was thrilled to read this morning that Amber Entertainment won a bidding war to produce a movie version of the novel. Both Stead and Ileen Maisel (The Golden Compass) will produce.
I can't wait to see New York City of the 1970s come to life, and the scenes that take place on game show "The $20,000 Pyramid" should be fabulous.
When A Wrinkle In Time was made into a TV movie in 2003, L'Engle said of the adaptation, "I expected it to be bad, and it is." Let's hope the movie of When You Reach Me doesn't get a similar reception—but how could it, since Stead is involved?
Do you think When You Reach Me will translate successfully on the screen? Are you looking forward to this movie?
By the way, we shared this news in Wednesday's Reading Corner, but in case you don't subscribe—this weekend a couple of our editors are off to attend the Newbery Caldecott Banquet in Washington, D.C. When they return, they'll post a full report of Stead's and Jerry Pinkney's speeches on this blog.
Kiera Cass, who has sold three books in a YA series pitched "as The Hunger Games meets "The Bachelor," following a 17-year-old, one of the eligible young women selected to compete to become the next queen, who finds herself falling in love despite only wanting to break her family out of the lower castes and leaving her boyfriend at home." The book will be called The Selection and will be released early in 2012.
As a Hunger Games fan (who recently met Suzanne Collins!), and a fascinated follower of the train wreck commonly known as "The Bachelor" franchise, this announcement pretty much blew my mind and inspired me to create the following graphic. Kiera, if you need a cover artist, call me! We'll have to wait until 2012 to see if the reality measures up to my imagination.
Summer is a good time to gather friends to share some small plates; if you give this one a try, let us know in the comments!
Crumble the Roquefort into a bowl and mash lightly with a fork. Add the pine nuts, raisins, wine or sherry and cream and mix to a paste. Remove the pits (stones) from the prunes and fill the cavities with the Roquefort paste. Close the prunes and secure with a wooden toothpick (cocktail stick). Put the prunes on a plate, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
Note: To use standard prunes, soak them in warm water to rehydrate them, following the directions on the package, then remove the pits.
Shared with permission from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega, published by Phaidon Press, 2010, $39.95. Photograph by Mauricio Salinas.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has signed a deal with Harper to write a book about "her experiences and those of her family during and immediately after World War II, drawing on her own memories, her parents' written reflections, interviews with contemporaries, and other primary source materials." The book will be called While I Was Growing Up.
Albright has already published one memoir, Madam Secretary, in 2003. Her other books include The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs; Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership; and Read My Pins, which BookPage reviewer Lacey Galbraith called "a fascinating and bejeweled look at America, and American foreign policy." (On a related note, my mother absolutely raved about the Albright pin exhibit at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, so see it if you have a chance; right now it's at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.)
As a native Arkansan, I paid particular attention to the Clinton Administration even when I was in elementary school, and I have long admired Albright—not least of all because we are alumnae of the same college. Madam Secretary was both revealing and gossipy (important traits in a memoir, huh?), and I look forward to this new chapter.
What about you?
Another author with a Nashville connection made news today: Ann Patchett has completed and sold a new novel to Harper for publication in 2011.
The new book is described as "Conradian" and is set in the Amazon jungle, where two female physicians make "hitherto unimaginable discoveries on both a personal and global scale."
South America was also the setting of Patchett's biggest hit (and one of my favorite novels ever), Bel Canto. [Read Patchett's behind-the-book story on that novel here.] Will the new novel and its similar blend of the personal and the global strike the same chord with readers? As Patchett fans, we can't wait to find out.
Maybe it's because everyone and her brother has a book idea swirling around in their heads these days, but it seems like the most-asked author question is: where did you get the idea for this book?
That's why we try to share as many "behind the book" stories with you on BookPage.com as we can. The last few weeks have brought two truly impressive contributions that you shouldn't miss.
Mystery lovers should love reading Rosemary Herbert's poignant story of working with the late Tony Hillerman to compile an updated version of Dorothy Sayers' classic, An Omnibus of Crime.
When Oxford University Press asked me to find an important American mystery writer to co-edit The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories with me, Tony leapt to mind. But I wondered if he could make time for the project. So I offered to do all the groundwork and to write all the essays introducing each story and author. I told him all he would have to do is decide on the final contents and write a preface. Tony told me, “That’s not fair. I insist on writing my share of the essays. And I’ll do the preface, too.” And he was true to his word.
Unlike Evie, I didn’t witness a childhood friend’s body being pulled out of the woods, and I didn’t lie to that dead girl’s father, didn’t become friends with her best friend, didn’t start a chain of events that led to trouble . . . big trouble. But I did know a girl who was murdered by a serial killer, and my curiosity about her death led me to obsess about her well into adulthood.
Mr. Peanut came out yesterday, and the BookPage staff rang in the publication at a packed reading/signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers and a party at a local restaurant. Author Adam Ross is originally from New York, though he said Mr. Peanut is his "Nashville book" since he started working on it about 15 years ago after he moved to town with his wife.
In BookPage, reviewer Jillian Quint gave a perfect description of the novel: "Through three men’s interlocking though asymmetrical narratives, Mr. Peanut tells the story of all marital strife—with an emphasis on the ugly side, replete with violence, pain, inertia, manipulation, sexual longing and destruction." As you might imagine, the story is complex, and I won't describe it other than to say it's got one of the most interesting and unique structures I've seen in a book all year. (I finished it two nights ago and stayed up until 2 a.m. reading. Ross told me he thinks the book is best read in "chunks," and I agree—you won't want to put it down, anyway.)
If you have the opportunity to see Ross on tour, I would go for it, as Ross (a child actor—and you could tell from his expressive voice) was an entertaining reader and very engaged with the audience. See the cities he's visiting here.
Notoriously harsh Michiko Kakutani called Ross "an enormously talented writer" in the New York Times and Mr. Peanut "induced nightmares" in Stephen King. Last night, people who had either started or finished Mr. Peanut were noticeably excited about the book, and here at BookPage editors have been fighting over review copies. I think it's safe to say that Ross's debut novel is already a hit, and there will be many readers eagerly waiting for his next project: story collection Ladies & Gentlemen.
Have you read Mr. Peanut? Is it on your TBR list? What authors have you enjoyed meeting?
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
FSG, $28, August 31, 2010
At this point about I'm about a quarter into Freedom, but I couldn't wait to share an excerpt with you. That same crackling dialogue that I loved in The Corrections is back; the same absurd family situations that make you think, "These people are insane." (And then, "These people remind me of my family.")
The novel starts with an essay called "Good Neighbors," the very same that The New Yorker ran in 2009. This introduces us to the seemingly perfect (but soon to become unhinged) world of Patty and Walter Berglund, a couple in Ramsey Hill, Minnesota. After their lives seem to collapse—their son's moved into a Republican family's house next door—the narrative turns to Patty's teen and college years, through her marriage to Walter. (You can read the first chapter of that section in The New Yorker, too.) Then, it comes back to 2004—and that's where I am now.
The excerpt is from the "Good Neighbors" section.
In the earliest years, when you could still drive a Volvo 240 without feeling self-conscious, the collective task in Ramsey Hill was to relearn certain life skills that your own parents had fled to the suburbs specifically to unlearn, like how to interest the local cops in actually doing their job, and how to protect a bike from a highly motivated thief, and when to bother rousting a drunk from your lawn furniture, and how to encourage feral cats to shit in somebody else’s children’s sandbox, and how to determine whether a public school sucked too much to bother trying to fix it. There were also more contemporary questions, like: What about those cloth diapers? Worth the bother? And was it true that you could still get milk delivered in glass bottles? Were the Boy Scouts O.K. politically? Was bulgur really necessary? Where to recycle batteries? How to respond when a poor person of color accused you of destroying her neighborhood? Was it true that the glaze of old Fiestaware contained dangerous amounts of lead? How elaborate did a kitchen water filter actually need to be? Did your 240 sometimes not go into overdrive when you pushed the overdrive button? Was it better to offer panhandlers food or nothing? Was it possible to raise unprecedentedly confident, happy, brilliant kids while working full time? Could coffee beans be ground the night before you used them, or did this have to be done in the morning? Had anybody in the history of St. Paul ever had a positive experience with a roofer? What about a good Volvo mechanic? Did your 240 have that problem with the sticky parking-brake cable? And that enigmatically labelled dashboard switch that made such a satisfying Swedish click but seemed not to be connected to anything: what was that?
Ernie Cline, the screenwriter behind 2009 movie Fanboys, has signed a "major" (aka $500,000+) deal with Crown to write a novel titled Ready Player One.
The book is described as "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory set in the world of massive multiplayer gaming, TRON, and Hot Tub Time Machine."
Online magazine Daemon’s Books has already asked if Ready Player One will be the new Avatar (there's already a movie adaptation in the works from Warner Bros., with Cline writing the screenplay). Here's more on the plot:
“Player” combines a young teen protagonist and a virtual world in its story line. The story follows an outcast young teen who escapes from the harsh realities of his life by logging onto a virtual world known as Oasis. While in Oasis users can lead drastically different lives from those they experience in the real world. When the creator of Oasis dies, he leaves a vast fortune as the prize in a massive treasure hunt that takes place within his virtual world.