Thursday, February 28, 2008


I'm on the internet, and I'm at my house! Ah sweet technology, how I've missed you...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

it's me again :)

Since nobody seems to feel like giving me any concrete grant info yet, I get to write here two days in a row! I posted a slightly different version of this review of MFK Fisher's The Gastronomical Me on goodreads (which I'm already obsessed with), but I had been meaning to write about it here too so here it is.

This is, in theory, a book about food. But a lot of it's not actually about food. There's a lot of talk about A) alcohol, B) random events in the author's life, and C) traveling on boats. But for all that, I liked most of it fairly well. MFK Fisher wrote about food in the 30's and 40's (at least in this particular book) shamelessly. Apparently, initial readers thought her essays must have been written by a man because the style was so forthcoming. Her writing is, for me, very reminiscent of comfort food, actually. (I actually looked this book up because I once read an essay by Fisher about the joys of mashed potatoes and ketchup that was one of the most vivid, sensuous things I've ever read.) She writes about good wine, good liquor, good cheese, particularly good meals, waiters, and the atmospheres in which she experienced all of these things in a very personal but not intimidating way. I haven't tasted the vast majority of what she writes about (and probably won't for financial or meat-content-related reasons), but she made me feel okay with that and like I could still just sit back and imagine the tastes and textures. That said, in between all the food is a lot of weird stuff: homicidal cooks, weird facts about her physical reactions to sea travel, anecdotes about her landladies and husbands and World War II and naked exchange students and all manner of other things. Some of it's interesting and pairs well with the food stuff, but some of it is just jarring. Ah well.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

i will write the goddamn grant in sand

Agh, I'm trying to write my first-ever grant proposals, without the benefit of good solid information about what I'm asking for money for or decent and timely internet access. Bah. But it's all for the sake of contemporary classical music, so I'll try and make it happen, I suppose.
In other news, I will have internet at my house within the week, finally. Erica told me she was sad because I never write in here, and I realized I miss this a lot. So hopefully, my posting will become far more frequent and I'll also have time to read about some of my friends as well.
I also just joined, which just excites me so much more than it maybe should. In honor of that (and because this line has been ringing in my brain for a week), here's possibly my absolute least favorite line from a book ever:
"...Pedro went to her... and throwing himself upon her, caused her to lose her virginity and learn of true love."
-Laura Esquival, Like Water for Chocolate
That line has always sullied the book for me. As I've grown older and keep re-reading this novel, I like the main characters and much of their motivations less and less, but I still enjoy the sensual cooking language and the nostalgia mixed with disgust I feel when I think about how this influenced my feelings about romance. But seriously, that line? Ugh. I've always wondered if part of the wrongness is from poor translation ("causing her to lose her virginity"?), but it's also that it makes me feel icky because of the conflation of sex and love and passion and all that jazz. Pedro and Tita, the two main characters, have been madly but chastely in love for years at this point, but she can only learn of true love when he fucks her in the back room? Please.

Friday, February 01, 2008

always a bridesmaid

You know when you re-read something and some new perspective you've gained over the years makes you not like it as much? Hmmph. I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible right now, and it's... weird. In some ways, I like it better than I did before; I really appreciate the way she manages to give five totally different voices to her extremely varying narrators, and I appreciate the lines of linguistic and metaphorical continuity that she at least mostly manages to sustain. Plus, who doesn't like an epic now and then? But anyway, throughout the book, the mother continually refers to the Congo as a wife, a woman, somehow a battered rape victim at the mercy of white greedy capitalists. While I would never argue that the Congo and the people there were not royally fucked over by American and Belgium capitalists, if I have to read anything more along the lines of "Poor Congo, barefoot bride of men who took her jewels and promised the Kingdom," I'm going to scream. The geographical area named "Congo" is not a woman or a wife. The people there are not bound together into a single shapeless mass called "Congo," which was anyway the invention of white colonialist mapmakers. I suppose that in the context of this book (which is more or less about how the Price family disintigrates beneath the will of their patriarch) the symbolism comes together, but I still deeply resent the generalization and gendering of a place. Bah.