28 Comments


  • “Kitchen Confidential” is utterly wonderful if you are an former kitchen employee, and also if you are not. He gets it absolutely right.

    K.

    February 08, 2006
  • Oh, an alternate title? “Shut the Fuck Up and Get These Plates Out of Here.”

    K.

    February 08, 2006
  • Bob, are you reading Stone Garden on someone’s suggestion?

    Also, I can lend you Kitchen Confidential. I went into Barnes and Noble looking for a serious book, saw it on the way out, bought it on the spot and devoured it. I can’t tell you why. It’s a fun time, though.

    February 08, 2006
  • I believe Laura read and enjoyed Kitchen Confidential. Enough so that we tried a couple of episodes of the sitcom based on it. Decent show, but not good enough. But we’re not here to talk about TV.

    I will be branded a heretic in many quarters for this, but I wouldn’t recommend Perdido Street Station for anything but research into the founding of a sort of new fantasy subgenre. I know everyone up to John Clute hailed its publication as an event of Moby-Dick–sized importance, but I was less than knocked sprawling on my ass by it. The writing is fine and the setting is vast and brilliantly imagined, but setting and atmosphere are all this book has. The story doesn’t even come close to living up to the grandeur of the city of New Crobuzon itself, and Miéville has this annoying habit of pulling one eyeball-kicking deus ex machina after another out of his pocket rather than developing a real plot. Perdido Street Station is like a flimsy sheet of wrapping paper tacked up on the grandest wall ever built.

    China’s a terribly nice guy (you know I did a reading with him a few years back), but I would suggest Gormenghast instead, or maybe The Book of the New Sun [I-II/III-IV] if you’re looking for a read that conveys the same sort of exotic, decayed, ancient splendor. Or even The Dying Earth et. al. If you simply must read Miéville, I might try Iron Council instead, which I’m given to understand at least contains a more mature and realized expression of his underlying sociolibertarian political ethos.

    If you’re just looking for a grand and literate fantasy, you might find Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson more compelling. I did, and I can lend you my copy. Hey, we don’t already have enough of each other’s books!

    February 08, 2006
  • Me, having made it through The Odyssey, I’m now finally reading Snow Crash.

    February 08, 2006
  • I second ‘s opinion of Perdido Street Station.

    Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell is part of a trilogy, and I don’t know how well it would stand up on its own. However, every book by Pat Murphy I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed.

    The other all look interesting to me. Yeah!

    February 08, 2006
  • I agree as a food affectionado an non-pro. 🙂

    February 09, 2006
  • Ha! I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain was from Brooklyn. The sequel will be “What Kinda Douchebag Doesn’t Like Escarole?” KC moves to the top of the buy or borrow list.

    February 09, 2006
  • Thanks. Well, you’re a book pro, if not a food pro. Do you think there’s a out there somewhere? Doesn’t have quite the right connotations, does it?

    February 09, 2006
  • Actually I worked with Molly at Brooklyn College. I’ve always wanted to read her stuff: she’s an incredibly smart person.

    February 09, 2006
  • Oh and yes, I’d love to borrow Kitchen Confidential—thanks!

    February 09, 2006
  • Perdido Street Station made it onto the list from one of the conversations at the NYRSF readings, probably a year ago. I didn’t know anything about it except that it’s supposed to be “important.” By sheer coincidence, I’d ordered the Gormenghast trilogy months ago from a reseller on Amazon, and it just arrived last week. It’s in the queue.

    As I said above, I’m convinced about Kitchen Confidential.

    February 09, 2006
  • The latter was a quicker read for me, though less satisfying. My favorite of his is still Cryptonomicon, and I’m steeling myself to begin Quicksilver again and read the whole trilogy.

    February 09, 2006
  • Thanks. I didn’t know Adventures… was part of a trilogy. That’s another reading suggestion that came out of a reading at New York Review of Science Fiction.

    February 09, 2006
  • There and Back Again

    Another part of the trilogy is There and Back Again, which is explictly a sfnal version of The Hobbit.

    February 09, 2006
  • Re: There and Back Again

    Okay, that sounds very cool. The whole trilogy is definitely on the list now.

    February 09, 2006
  • Actually I worked with Molly at Brooklyn College. I’ve always wanted to read her stuff: she’s an incredibly smart person.

    Ah, Okay. It sounds like a lovely book, but it seemed like a random piece of fiction compared to the other, Bob-esque choices. I thought that perhaps you wanted to balance the scales a bit and went hunting for a good novel.

    Even I have heard of Perdido Street Station, and the only genre authors I read are Bill Shunn and Robert Howe, so I can see why you’d have it on the list. It might be good to look at, if only to investigate the phenomenon.

    The Truth about Bullshit could be funny, but it could also be an idea better served in the medium of an article. It might get repetitive. But that’s me looking for a critique, for the sake of balance, so don’t listen.

    I’ll get the book out in the mail tomorrow, since I got the notification while I was at work and forgot to bring it today. Are you listed? Is Bob Howe your REAL name??

    I think you’ll like Bourdain. He reminds you over and over what a “bad boy” he is and how much he enjoys his team of social rejects, but he remains charming regardless.

    February 09, 2006
  • Actually, I read more mainstream fiction than genre fiction. I always buy the Best American Short Stories (this year edited by Michael Chabon), and I’ve just been reading collections by
    Nathan Englander (the story “For the Relief of Unbearable Urges” is killer), Edwidge Danticat, and Junot Diaz.

    Bill, of course, is a worthy genre author. Nonetheless there are a few other books I’d urge you to pick up.

    February 10, 2006
  • haha! I didn’t mean that you were deficient in any one thing generally , and I’m sorry it came out that way. I now realize that my comment about my own deficiencies made you think I was comparing your reading list between genre and non-genre. I wasn’t- I was actually talking about fiction and non-fiction, and how the one novel was the only thing I couldn’t see a previous predilection for in the short time I’ve known you.

    Bah, fuck it. You know what I meant, and quit feeding my paranoia! 😉

    February 10, 2006
  • Bill, of course, is a worthy genre author. Nonetheless there are a few other books I’d urge you to pick up.

    I am happy to have read both of you! I’m happy that you are both excellent writers and that you are both pillars of decency and goodness. It makes things much easier when both are present, yes?

    Yes, I’m sure you have read thousands of books I haven’t. I never seem to have an opening in my own massive reading list, though, so one at a time!

    February 10, 2006
  • There are times I find myself wondering if dirtylibrarian has the right connotations.

    February 11, 2006



  • Or maybe you just need a new user icon.

    February 11, 2006
  • Hey, hey! You’re paranoia came to my house and ransacked my fridge, then spread the trash all over the kitchen floor to get at the leftover Chicken in Garlic Sauce.

    February 11, 2006
  • I’m a pillar of decency! <Does Snoopy Dance>

    February 11, 2006
  • Anonymous

    book list

    You’ll get a kick out of the Bourdain. And ain’t China Mieville something? I want to be New Weird. No, I don’t want to write New Weird, I want to be a New Weird character. But maybe not the woman with the dung beatle head.

    I just finished Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and found it quite good. It’s very Japanese, despite the many Euro and Americo influences. Toward the end, I found myself envisioning a very very good anime film. Japanese magic realism.

    I liked the statue of liberty mystery you gave me, btw, but now I can’t find it and can’t remember the author’s name! So much for brand-name recognition.

    February 24, 2006
  • Anonymous

    BASF

    I noticed that Chabon’s taste in short fiction veers a bit more toward Our Side (i.e. genre) than previous volumes.

    February 24, 2006
  • Re: book list

    Hey Godzilla!

    I’m two-thirds of the way through Kitchen Confidential (courtesy of ), and loving it. I haven’t read Mieville yet, nor any of Murakami’s work. More for the list.

    The book I gave you was Liberty Falling, by Nevada Barr. Glad you liked it—she’s got a ton more out there.

    February 24, 2006
  • Re: BASF

    Yes, but he’s married to Ayelet Waldman, whose non-fiction pieces on Salon make me want to staple my prepuce to a wild boar, then drive the boar off a tall cliff:

    I have four children. Four is plenty. Four might be too many, if one is to accept the opinion of the people who pass me on the street and ask, horrified, “Are they all yours?” Personally, I think four is the perfect number of children for our particular family. Four is enough to create the frenzied cacophony that my husband and I find so joyful. Four is not too many to sit in rapt attention when it’s time for the nightly chapter of “The Wizard of Oz” or “Twenty-One Balloons.” Four is a gang that entertains and protects its members. Four fit comfortably in a minivan.

    Four children is enough.

    So why can’t I stop thinking about another?

    February 24, 2006

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