Eat Your Veggies!

By , May 31, 2011

Summer is coming and that means fresh locally-grown vegetables will once again be plentiful in farmers markets, and perhaps your own backyard gardens!  If you’re looking for new ways to prepare your favorite veggies, or even inspiration to try those you’ve always avoided, allow me to recommend my go-to cookbook!  Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is NOT just for vegetarians or vegans; it evens says so on the cover!  But if you’re looking for comprehensive and easy-to-digest information about selection and preparation of numerous varieties of vegetables, Madison’s award-winning 1400 recipe cookbook is one of the best resources I’ve found.  She includes the usual suspects (tomatoes, squash, etc.) as well as the less loved varieties (I’m talking ‘bout brussel sprouts!)  I am personally indebted to her for teaching me that “pickled” is not the only way to eat beets!  And her recipe for roasted butternut squash is so simple and yet so flavorful.  There are dessert recipes here too (fabulous cardamom cookies, page 715!). Before I leave you to your cooking, I must put in a quick plug for Madison’s latest cookbook, Seasonal Fruit Desserts from Orchard, Farm, and Market, which is fast becoming another favorite of mine.  Strawberries in wine syrup anyone?                                                                               -crystal

Book review: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

By , May 30, 2011

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
by Laurence Sterne

Sorry, I could not finish this. I made it to about page 250. Which was better than anyone else in my book club. I felt better knowing no one else could finish it either.

The same joke — 18th century English gentry’s formal speech is funny ha ha ha — for 600-800 pages depending on the edition you pick up is a bit much. Maybe there was something of a language gap? Yes, but everyone in my book club agreed that when we read Shakespeare we don’t have the same problem. When we read Grandpa Willie we read it and laugh and are amazed. Not so much with Sterne. I chuckled through first 30 pages and the rest was grind. It’s worth noting Shandy was originally published in installments so no one in the 18th century was hitting an 800 page monster.

I admit there is probably a lot more going on thematically than I realize since I didn’t finish. Sometimes the aboutness of a work grows like a benign tumor (or maybe a malignant tumor in the case of a book like Infinite Jest). I reluctantly acknowledge my ignorance and bow out. I wouldn’t feel so bad about myself if the book I am reading in lieu of finishing Shandy wasn’t John Krakauer’s book about Pat Tillman. It feels low. Maybe that is not so bad. Maybe that is like choosing to watch Frontline over Masterpiece Theatre.

Maybe it feels salacious because Krakauer is so compulsively readable. I can’t put Where Men Win Glory down. Tillman’s stranger than fiction life is more than enough reason to read Where Men Win Glory but the book is also a concise military history of contemporary Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the role of Osama bin Laden therein.

If you are interested in religious fanaticism you would probably like Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven which profiles homegrown religious criminals, mostly the marry-your-own-14-year-old-niece type.

If you are more interested in Tillman’s rugged individualism (personally I’m more interested in soft and tender individualism) you should check out Krakauer’s first book Into the Wild, a biography of Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, which Sean Penn turned into the popular film of the same name.

But if Tristram Shandy is more your thing, the library has many copies and various editions can be downloaded for free from Google Books.

Grandpa WillieShakespeare Allowed usually meets at the Main Library on first Saturday of the month. The Shakespeare Reading Group meets the at Edmonson Pike branch on the last Wednesday of the month.

Shakespeare and Tristram Shandy really don’t have anything to do with one another.

Book Reviews: Tornadoes? Again?

By , May 28, 2011

Has the weather been nuts lately or what? As of this past week (May 23-27), we’ve had 1200+ reports of tornadoes in the United States for 2011 – which according to Dr. Greg Forbes at The Weather Channel is more than double our normal yearly average. Even for a weather buff like me that seems crazy. So what are we to do about it?

A) Stock up on batteries for those handy weather radios so we can hear when the warnings go out. (check)
B) Friend Greg Forbes on Facebook so he’ll tell us what’s coming our way. (got it…check)
C) Read some great books from NPL on tornadoes (especially handy if the power goes out as you are cowering in your basement/crawl space with a flashlight).

See list below:

 Storm Chaser (Nonfiction)
 By Warren Faidley
 Best tornado book I’ve found in the Nashville Public Library. Written by a man who was actually one of the first storm chasers, it is informative and exciting. Faidley doesn’t waste time trying to make tornadoes socially relevant, he covers them because they exist, end of story.

 The Stormchasers (Fiction)
 By Jenna Blum
 One of the better tornado fiction books I’ve read. It seems like the author may have actually been on a chase.  A little bit of brother drama can kind of get in the way of the storm action, but other than that, a good read.

 Storm Warning (Nonfiction)
 By Nancy Mathis
 May 3, 1999 is a day that no Oklahoman will forget and this book chronicles the deadly outbreak that hit the state, including the rare F5 that smashed into Oklahoma City.

 Deathwind (Fiction)
 By PM Carlson
 The mystery was forgettable, but I thought the tornado scenes were good.

You might also try these:




So happy reading! I hope you don’t get blown away by them…no seriously…
:) Amanda

Book review: Underrated Classics

By , May 25, 2011

If you’re not one for light, fluffy beach reads during the summer, try one of these lesser-known classics:

All Passion Spent
By Vita Sackville-West

Girl power, circa 1931.  See the results of Lady Slane’s late-in-life decision to flout convention, avoid hypocrisy, and pursue honesty in all of her relationships.


Alice Adams
By Booth Tarkington

Social climbing, circa 1920.  The 1935 movie with Katharine Hepburn is also well worth seeing, but be forewarned that it has a different (and less convincing) ending.


Something in Disguise
By Elizabeth Jane Howard

Family dysfunction, circa 1969.  Perhaps best known for having been married to Kingsley Amis, Howard should be famous in her own right.  Her writing is funny and sparkly and unusual, a little bit Truman Capote-esque.


Book review: Raymond Carver

By , May 20, 2011

As you may have heard, the new Will Ferrell movie Everything Must Go (currently playing at the Belcourt) is based on the Raymond Carver short story “Why Don’t You Dance?”, included in the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.  If you’ve never read Raymond Carver before, you’re in for a treat.

Book review: Erik Larson’s Picks

By , May 18, 2011

Erik Larson, author of the hugely popular Devil in the White City and the just-released In the Garden of Beasts, was in town last week for the library’s new Salon @ 615 series.  For those of you who missed it, he recommended two books during his talk as major influences on him: A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord, and The Alienist, by Caleb Carr. 


He cited A Night to Remember, about the sinking of the Titanic, as a perfect example of the exciting, you-are-there style of nonfiction writing that he himself does.  He named The Alienist, with its turn-of-the-century setting and exploration of the psychology of serial killers, as the book that planted the seed for Devil in the White City (soon to be a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio).





Be sure to check out future Salon @ 615 author appearances on our website!


Music list: (Not) Ken Burns’ Jazz

By , May 16, 2011

Quartet (Moscow) 2008
by Anthony Braxton

I was pleasantly surprised to find this in a display of new music at the Main Library. Braxton, an unclassifiable “jazz” saxophonist, is accompanied by the young Mary Halvorson on electric guitar and creates the best album Sonic Youth never recorded. It is good to hear Braxton’s vision and bravery have not faded with age.

by Steve Reid Ensemble

Reid does with drums what Braxton does with a horn: deconstructs classic lines and then use those basic elements to string together post-minimalist-jazz-raga-does-not-computes. Though recorded in Africa, it doesn’t sound particularly African but with digitally tweaked keyboard up front in the mix Daxaar feels electric miles and miles away. After a four decades of experimentation, Reid’s career came to an end when he passed away in 2010.

The Olatjunji Concert: The Last Live Recording
by John Coltrane

You’ve heard Trane before, but you’ve never heard this Trane. During this hour of scorched Earth psychedelia, Pharoah Sanders‘ tenor sax is the breath of dragon. This kind of maximum volume jamming probably appeals to fans of King Crimson more so that traditional jazz fans. Recorded shortly before his death, this is no swan song, this is the cry of a phoenix.

Book review: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive

By , May 14, 2011

EarleI’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive
By Steve Earle

An abortionist, a whore, and a dope dealer walk into a bar…

Is this the latest dumb joke making the rounds? Nope. This is the lineup of main characters in Steve Earle’s new book, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” It’s set in the slums of San Antonio and in the beginning, the book feels contrived – how many times do we have to listen to musicians venerate drug use?

In addition, almost immediately it becomes apparent that Doc, the main character, not only smokes dope, but also performs abortions (prior to Roe v. Wade in the 1960s) to support his habit. Living and working out of a boarding house run by closet lesbians, Doc treats the menagerie of hookers, pimps, and other unfortunate youth who show up at his door looking for help. (Rush Limbaugh just had an aneurysm.) Add in Hank Williams as a ghost and the good times can begin. A book with such a Burroughsesque beginning should not be so enjoyable. 

And yet, buried under the miles of hard living, baggage, and dirt, the novel’s heart begins to beat. After an encounter with then President Kennedy and “Yah-kee” at the San Antonio airport, something special begins happening on the South Presa Strip. Hookers stop turning tricks, dope fiends stop buying dope, and even Doc manages to kick his habit. Turns out there is redemption for the wicked if only they visit the Yellow Rose Guest House.

This may be the best book I’ve read so far this year, even though it is sneaky about its greatness. The characters are hard to love and the setting calls for a shower after every chapter, but there is no pretense. Doc and friends are unapologetically who they are and they understand that change is a necessary, and hopefully desirable, part of life. Earle has been writing great story songs for years, but it can be difficult to turn a three-minute song into a full-length novel (just ask any Saturday Night Live writer…Night at the Roxbury, anyone?) Here, Earle succeeds beautifully, even though, or maybe because, life is messy.  

Earle is has released a CD of the same title.  I’ll take a listen to it and letcha know how it sounds…

Yee-haw, y’all :)


Book review: Miss Mapp

By , May 11, 2011

Miss Mapp
by E.F. Benson

This is absolutely one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, on a par with Kingsley Amis’ Lucky Jim.  It’s a British comedy of manners set in the 1920′s about the residents of a small English village and their constant attempts to one-up each other.  It reminded me of a meaner, snarkier Jane Austen.  If you like this, you’re in luck–it’s part of a series.  The author is also well-known for his horror stories.

Popmatic Podcast May 2011

By , May 10, 2011

olsen twinsHelp us welcome new podcastee, Lisa! The crew discusses our favorite short story collections and we debut a new segment, Tickle My Fancy.

Popmatic Podcast May 2011 (list) – Check out all items mentioned in this episode from Nashville Public Library

Lee Marvin (WorldCat list)

Trailers From Hell – Movie Trailers

Olsen Twins – When Does a Dream become a nightmare?Gimme Pizza Slow – YouTube

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