Making sausage at Farrar, Straus & Giroux: Hothouse by Boris Kachka

hothouse“By the way, did you read Hothouse when it came out last year?” I asked a  bookish friend in an email this week. “It took me ages to slog through the introduction so I’m hesitant to make a 400-page commitment if I’m going to hate it.”

A year after its release and I’ve finally read Hothouse, the history of the publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux by Boris Kachka. I remember seeing the book at Books on Beechwood in Ottawa last summer, as part of a display on these types of literary histories. I would have picked it up right away but was distracted by David Mason’s The Pope’s Bookbinder on the same table. I knew I was only going to be leaving with one massive, forty-dollar hardcover that day and having worked with the colourful rare book dealer Dave Mason only that past year I was far more eager to read his memoir; it was to be like reading the diary of a co-worker you’ve heard scandalous rumours about.

But I digress.

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Read this book immediately: The Other Language

indexI have a friend, an ex-coworker, with whom I occasionally email back and forth about what we’re reading. In an email to her yesterday, I stated that she had to go out and get The Other Language by Francesca Marciano immediately, and start reading it. In the same email I also wrote that she must immediately download Bad News off of the classic Kanye West album 808 and Heartbreak and listen to it on repeat. Before hitting send, it dawned on me how bossy I sounded so I erased the word ‘immediately’. But then I undid the change and sent it as-is because a life well-lived requires beautiful things, and telling my book buddy that she should immediately get her hands on Marciano’s beautiful book and Kanye’s splendid use of a flight of violins only makes me a better, if bossy, friend.

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A booklist for the ladies of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

UnknownI’m late with this post. You’ve all been talking about Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. for a year and I just read it last week because sometimes it’s exhausting reading about people who are exactly like the people you’re around everyday.  So, a year after its release, there’s not a lot I can offer in terms of original thought on the text.

I liked it; appreciated the well drawn characters, loved the kale jokes, but you’ve heard all that from any number of reviewers already.  I also don’t want to talk about Nate at all because he’s a dumb jerk and his whole persona is a little too close to home. I live in a hip literary centre too and there are always Nates around and devoting attention to Nates is like feeding gremlins after midnight. So let’s talk about books instead. Let’s talk about the wonderful female characters of Adelle Waldman’s novel and try to understand them a little bit better by what we imagine their book choices to be.

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Shagging in the dry storage room: axioms of restaurant life in Chop Chop

51ErRgCVSiL._SL500_AA300_It is a truth universally acknowledged that an individual employed by a restaurant will eventually make a poor life choice in the dry storage room.

Always say “behind” or “backs.”

Alcohol is an effective salve for the end of a stressful dinner service. Drugs are better.

As Monocle, the hero of Simon Wroe’s novel Chop Chop was bleeding in front of the mustard in the novel’s first act, I was already contemplating saying goodbye to the ergonomic Aeron chair and Excel spreadsheets that make up my day-to-day and returning to a life in which a fat Portuguese chef orders me out of his kitchen while I berate a fry cook for the impossibility of a 15-minute ticket time for an order of calamari that can be fully cooked in 45 seconds. Give me a line of coke and send me back into the game chef!

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Big news on the Shakespeare front

Big news on the Shakespeare front

One of our contributors has been short-listed for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Shakespeare Selfie competition for her epilogue for the terrible How I Met Your Mother series finale written in the voice of Puck from a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Needless to say, upon hearing the news she was short-listed, @msevav immediately quit her day-job to pursue her dream of writing pop-culture commentary in Elizabethan English full time. 

 

Congratulations!