The Marseilles Trilogy

Fabio Montale is a marginalized neighborhood cop in the Arab ghetto in Marseilles.

1. Jean-Claude Izzo's Total Chaos is a compelling noir tale of growing up poor and immigrant, especially poor and Arab. The story mixes organized crime, police corruption and compartmentalization, the uneasiness of love and friendship, the requirements of honor, and a keen sense of place (food, drink, neighborhoods).

2. Chourmo

3. Solea (due out in June 2007)

More Good News

Back in June I blogged that famed and beloved political columnist Art Buchwaldwas alive and well despite a warning in the Spring that he only had weeks to live if he didn't undergo dialysis.

Now I'm pleased to report that Buchwald has a new book out Too Soon to Say Goodbye that was featured on the Diane Rehm show on 11-22-2006.

Current political commentary by Buchwald appears in the Washington Post

Depths of Concrete

Paul Chadwick’s 1980s Concrete series has been recently re-released by Dark Horse Comics. The series follow the life of Ronald Lithgow after aliens transplant his brain into a massive body made of rock. Instead of having Concrete seek revenge on the aliens who put him into this predicament, or having him declare his intentions to rid the world of evil-doers, Chadwick explores how Mr. Lithgow (former senatorial speechwriter and average Joe) deals mentally, emotionally, and physically with suddenly having a "nigh invulnerable" body.

In the first book of the series, Depths, we get Concrete’s origin story, complete with aliens and woodland creatures. Also included are some of the early stories, never before collected, in which Concrete attends a birthday party, attempts to swim an ocean, and becomes bodyguard to a rock star. The page layout choices are well thought out and the illustrations are fantastic. Chadwick’s attention to detail throughout adds a lot to the story (especially the 150 panel swim sequence on page 54).

An Apple for Harriet Tubman by Glennett Tilley Turner

There are many children’s books written about Harriet Tubman. This one gives the reader a little known fact about her. She loved apples. When she was a slave she had to pick apples. Slaves were not allowed to eat them. If they even took one bite they were punished. One day Harriet Tubman noticed that the overseer was not around and decided to take a bite of an apple. She was caught and severely beaten. She promised herself that she would become free and eat all the apples she wanted. Harriet Tubman did just that. She ran away through the Underground Railroadand became free. She later bought property and planted apple trees. She ate all the apples she wanted, just like she promised, and invited the townspeople to come and fill their baskets. Glennette Tilley Turner captures the spirit of the young Harriet Tubman and her struggle for freedom in this uplifting children’s book.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (12/3/06)

Hiassen has taken his white-hot anger about the environmental destruction and degradation that he first reported on for his Miami newspaper and played it for laughs in a remarkable number of satirical novels. By making fun of the developers, politicians and "players" in the ongoing assault on the quality of life in his beleaguered home state, he continues to win converts to his cause.

At #1 is Cross by James Patterson: "Alex Cross, retired from the F.B.I., has a chance to track a rapist who may have murdered his wife."

At #4 is Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen: "A single mother takes revenge on her lecherous ex-boss and an annoying telemarketer in the Florida Keys."

At #8 is Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark: "Passengers on a Christmas cruise for charity, including an amateur sleuth, manage to foil two escaping felons."

Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, has died

Novelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, has diedNovelist Bebe Moore Campbell, 56, has died

Bebe Moore Campbell, author of popular best-selling novels about romance and interracial friendships, died November 27, 2006, from brain cancer.

Often compare to Terry McMillan, Campbell’s fiction titles focused on upper middle class African Americans figuring out the balance between having it all, having satisfying romantic relationships, and enjoying friendships that crossed the color line.

Several of Ms. Campbell’s novels used history to frame her stories. Her first fiction title, Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine (1992), is based on the life of Emmett Till. Brothers and Sisters (1994) is the story of two bankers, one white and one African American, in post-L.A. 1992 riots. In What You Owe Me (2001), the friends are a Holocaust survivor and an African American. Her last novel, 72 Hour Hold (2005), was based on a family member's struggle with bipolar disorder.

Ms. Campbell was 56 when she died.

Foodie Radio & NPR Recommended Cookbooks: A perfect holiday treat

One of my favorite things to do on a leisurely weekend or holiday afternoon is tune the radio to a show about food, and cook something I don’t usually have the time for, like the 4-hour pork stew I made on Friday. The online archive of the Splendid Table does just the trick when my local NPR station isn’t playing something appropriate.

For inspiration on what to cook, or just to read for fun, read about NPR’s cookbook picks for this season. Each cookbook description includes a link to one recipe (free!) from the book . Titles held at the Ann Arbor District Library are:

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan includes more than 300 recipes for delicious desserts, including Devil’s Food White-Out Cake, which is pictured on the cover. Greenspan has also written three other books in our collection: Baking with Julia, Desserts by Pierre Hermé, and, my favorite title of the day, Pancakes: From Morning to Midnight.

In Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver, see Italy through Jamie’s eyes, as he travels through the country, exploring what he calls “villagional” – variation in dishes that varies from village to village so much so that it is more than regional. You can take his recipe for pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas) for a test drive before checking out the book.

The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains may not sound like a good source for the kind of decadence you usually associate with good baking, but be prepared to be proven wrong. The good folks at King Arthur are masters of great flavor, and in creating recipes for this cookbook, they said a decisive “no way” to any recipe that just “tastes good for whole grain.” Try out their Banana Chocolate Chip Squares for an example of some whole grain goodness that tastes great.

In Happy in the Kitchen, chef Michel Richard will make you drool, with gorgeous photos and this written record of what Arthur Boehm calls a “wonderfully playful cooking intelligence.” Recommended for serious amateurs and professional chefs, this book will provide useful tips while stretching your foodie imagination. There’s no free recipe link for this cookbook – you’ll just have to check it out at the library.

Wine Trivia, Wine Books

If you're ready to learn about wine, check out New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia. If you're ready to compete about wine, sign up for Wine Jeopardy Trivia Night @ Paesano's at 8 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 29. If you don't win, well, keep studying:
2007 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone
Ontario Wine Country
History In A Glass: Sixty Years Of Wine Writing From Gourmet.

Feminism Redux- A Novel Idea

Was Tolstoy right? Tracy Farber, 33 year old English professor disputes Tolstoy's claim that "happy families are all alike." Thus the title, Tolstoy Lied by Rachel Kadish. Farber begins to investigate the possibility of happy endings, both in literature and life in this funny and intelligent foray into academic witch hunting and the search for a perfect man. Tracy meets George at a cocktail party where he, in an act of creative empathy, lets his hors d'oevres slide off his soggy plate as he watches Tracie's do the same. From then on, their whirlwind romance hits some rough spots as Tracy realizes that while a feminist, she can also accept some of George's traditional values. A few steps up from the "chick lit" genre, Tolstoy Lied is an engaging read.

Kid Bits - Donutheart

Sue Stauffacher has done it again, and she's a Michigan Author! Laugh out loud funny, combined with heartfelt issues!! Donuthead was the first book, and Donutheart is the pefect companion and follow-up. Franklin Delano Donuthead and his friend/nemesis Sarah Kervick enter sixth grade and Middle School. For what it's worth, life fits a bit smoother, by the end of the tale.

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