Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Salon--and the list grows...

The Sunday

I've been slowly making my way through Andre Dubus III's memoir Townie. It's admirably honest about his dysfunctional family and what it was like to grow up in poverty-stricken eastern mill towns in the 1970s. Dubus is a little older than I am, but the stuff about childhood in the 1970s struck a chord with me, and the details he provides about life in that time and place are fascinating to me. I loved the writing in House of Sand and Fog, so when I heard from my cousin that this memoir was really great, that and curiosity about Dubus's childhood made me pick this up. I'm happy to say that I'm again enjoying Dubus's style.

And I'm about to start a different kind of memoir for my book group, Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, by Gabrielle Hamilton. This is another kind of memoir that I like--one that immerses you in a world you know very little about. It tells the story of owner and chef of New York's popular Prune restaurant, and her unusual path to becoming a chef. She tells of her childhood on a farm, her eccentric parents' divorce, and her struggles working in the food world. My book group once read (and enjoyed) Bill Buford's book Heat, about a journalist who immerses himself in the food and restaurant worlds. So I'm interested to read a memoir from a chef who came to it reluctantly.

What have you been reading this weekend?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Booking Through Thursday--Age Inappropriate

Here are last week's and this week's Booking Through Thursday questions, because they go hand in hand, and I didn't answer last week:

Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?

In contrast to last week’s question–What do you think of censoring books BECAUSE of their intended age? Say, books too “old” for your kids to read?

Last week's answer: When I was a kid, I reveled in reading things that were too "old" for me. I liked reading things that I thought were mature, that might teach me something I didn't already know about the adult world, that might unlock some adult secrets.

Now that I'm grown, I will sometimes read a young adult book, because I've heard it's fantastic, or because it reminds me of the very satisfying reading I did as a kid. I read picture books because I've got kids, and I've got no choice.

For this week's answer: I don't really censor books in my house. I figure that if you're going to learn something that's too "old" for you, the gentlest and most forgiving way to learn it is in the pages of a book. Not, say, in the graphic imagery of a movie or even a video game. And we don't have anything on our shelves that I think would be too shocking or would scar my kids for life. Except there might be an old copy of The Joy of Sex lurking somewhere around here, with those hilarious 1970s drawn illustrations. That might freak out the kids a little.

But I have a soft spot for the idea of a kid sneaking off to read Lolita or something she's heard is titillating. I think it's a rite of passage for readers.

What do you think?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Poetry: Spread the Word

My good friend Greg Pincus, whose poetry blog GottaBook was one of the first I ever followed, has a great new project where he is bringing poetry into schools. I've supported him, and I'm hoping others will do the same. Check it out: