Here’s what I brought to WBRC Fox 6 on August 6, and there’s truly something for everyone–a memoir (with recipes and a link to much more), a surprisingly awesome book about grammar, mesmerizing short stories and a romp of a novel. Enjoy!
From Scratch is a memoir from actress Tembi Locke. It’s also a love story with recipes. Tembi married a man from Sicily (it was love at first sight when Tembi met Saro, who was an apprentice chef, in Florence, Italy). But his family was not happy with their son marrying a black woman from America. When Saro died of cancer, Tembi and their adopted daughter sought solace in Sicily … at her mother-in-law’s kitchen table. The close-knit community; the simple, fresh food at the table; and her memories of a great love gave Locke the strength to heal her heart. Now she’s paying that forward. Read the book, and also check out www.thekitchenwidow.com.
“This is a modern take on the age-old kitchen table conversation—an inspirational online platform dedicated to raising awareness about how we can support each other through times of illness and grief,” Locke says. “Here we reclaim the lost art of comforting the soul. We do it around delicious food.” You’ll find advice on dealing with grief, information for caregivers and healthy recipes.
Semicolon, by Cecelia Watson, is brand-new nonfiction, and it’s creating a buzz. This book about “The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark” is both funny and informative. It’s about language rules, sure, but it’s also about the love of language and a celebration of creativity. The semicolon was invented in the 15thcentury; by the 1800s, it was “downright trendy,” Watson writes. Today, some people love the punctuation mark; others loathe it. It was designed to create clarity; misused, it creates confusion. Watson considers how the semicolon has impacted society and law as well as literature. She says it can do more, too. When she finished researching and writing this book, Watson says: “Not only did I become a better and more sensitive reader and a more capable teacher, I also became a better person. Perhaps that sounds like a fancifully hyperbolic claim—can changing our relationship with grammar really make us better human beings? … I hope to persuade you that reconsidering grammar rules will do exactly that, by refocusing us on the deepest, most primary value and purpose of language: true communication and openness to others.”
Orange World is the newest collection of short stories from Karen Russell, the bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-finalist Swamplandia! (which I’ve talked about before; also, I brought Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove to Fox 6 last time). I just love this writer, who never ceases to amaze me with her imagination and her way with words. This is her most recent collection of short stories, and, as expected, they are cleverly funny and a little bit creepy. In “Bog Girl: A Romance,” a young man falls in love with a 2000-year-old girl he unearthed in a northern European peat bog. In “The Prospectors,” two young, idealistic, Depression-era girls head out West in search of a new life and find themselves fighting for their lives when they end up at the wrong party. In “The Bad Graft,” a Joshua tree makes a “Leap” into the consciousness of a woman. August is busy; find an hour or so for yourself to spend with these stories.
Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? by Brock Clarke is a delightful novel. Calvin Bledsoe is an ordinary man destined for an extraordinary adventure. After his mother, a theologian and bestselling author, dies in an explosion, Calvin’s world is changed forever. At the funeral, a mysterious woman, claiming to be Calvin’s aunt, shows up and insists he accompany her to Europe. Right now. For Calvin, who has never ventured far from his small hometown in Maine, this is not easy. Then danger ensues: Calvin encounters antiquities thieves, spies, religious fanatics and his ex-wife who is stalking him. By the time Calvin realizes he’s been kidnapped, he has to figure out how to escape and how to live the life he’s meant to live. (This book goes on sale August 27.)