July 31, 2013


why did it take me so long to read this book? I've been aware of it since it came out in 2011; there was much praise and gushing over it, inclusion in almost every "best of 2011" reading list, and a hold queue at the library that was months long. honestly, I think it was the subject matter... I often a hard time with books/movies that portray Southern poverty. it can very easily veer into unrealistic romanticism that feels unauthentic at best, and exploitation at worst. (Beasts of the Southern Wild gave me a similar icky feeling.) but after seeing so many recommendations over the years, I finally decided to give it a try, and i'm so glad I did- this book is amazing. the setting is a swampy Florida that seems effortlessly conjured up, but it's obvious there were hours upon hours of research and familiarity with the land (and the government's disastrous mismanagement of it) and the culture. and yes, ultimately it's a sad story about the downfall of a poor family's business and livelihood, but Karen Russell's writing is so rich, and each member of the Bigtree family is so dynamic, you really just get swept up into the story. it accomplishes the very rare feat of being a total page turner- each family member's fate hangs in the balance of each chapter, and also being quite deep- metaphors abound if you care to take the time to unpack them. all in all, a really great modern Southern Gothic story that should have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. (seriously, A Visit from the Goon Squad wins the year before, and this year you'd rather not give out a prize than award it to Karen Russell? so wrong.)

July 12, 2013

Easy summer reads

after realizing that I've hardly read any fiction recently, I decided to dive into the novels pictured above in my latest library haul. first up, The Keep by Jennifer Egan.

She wrote A Visit from the Goon Squad, so i'm guessing that's why I put this one on my list so many moons ago. after a traumatic episode in their childhood, two cousins reconnect as adults to renovate a castle in Eastern Europe. but the castle, and cousin Howard's plans, both prove to be more than they seem.... it was a great summer read, not super challenging but definitely enjoyable, with a ramped-up ending that delivers a nice plot twist and unexpected ending. 2 thumbs up.

next is a classic example of what my mother calls a "dead body book." the main character kills a man and buries him in his backyard. a year later, a yard service crew unearths 2 bodies on his property... neither of which are the man he killed. pretty good premise, right? it was a decent read, a solid effort for a first novel.

next up, Swamplandia!

July 1, 2013

Brussels sprouts and eggs

this is less of a recipe and more of a public service announcement. i just want everyone to know that fried eggs taste delicious on top of roasted brussels sprouts. 

directions, if you need them:

preheat oven to 400.
Halve brussels sprouts (or quarter if they're really big) and toss with olive oil.
lay them out in casserole dish and add salt and pepper. and maybe a little paprika.
roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning them once after about 10 minutes.
while that's goin' down, fry your egg(s) however you like 'em.
dump the roasted sprouts in a bowl, top with eggs. sprinkle a little pepper and grated parmesan on top. 

PS- i was making this sometime last fall, and this happened:

2 sets of twins in one carton. what are the odds?