Monday, August 28, 2006

"Life With Father" - Clarence Day

"Life With Father" is the basis for the classic William Powell (to whom we should all genuflect towards as a paradigm of martini drinking class) movie about the eponymous Father and his family in 1880's Manhattan. The book is a collection of New Yorker pieces written by Clarence Day about his father, also named Clarence, describing events from childhood to adulthood.
Father is a successful Wall Street broker and more than set in his ways. He was a man who would try to force the world to move concert with the tunes he demanded be played and more often than not succeed. Between his sons who he often saw as undisciplined and his wife who he saw as occassionally frivolous, Father found himself having to move the world, or at least his immediate environs, off its normal axis more than a few times.
There's a companion book called "Life With Mother" that I have read yet but I look forward to doing so at some point.

"The Nasty Bits" - Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain is the chef de cuisine at a French restaurant in Manhattan who achieved a degree of notoriety a few years back with a tell all autobiography of his life as a journeyman chef in New York called "Kitchen Confidential". "The Nasty Bits" is a collection of essays and articles he's written over the past several years things from dining in Vietnam to how a Central American and Mexican cooks are the real engines behind even the most upscale American restaurants and it's a great thing.
Bourdain is an ex-junkie and is clearly a food and adrenaline freak now. He writes in a sharp, profanity laced style that makes you want to try exotic ingredients and visit strange locales. He also provides numerous descriptions of how a kitchen works and how professional cooks operate. I admit to being enthralled by even simply adequate descriptions of competent people working at their crafts and trades. Bourdain is much better than merely adequate.
He had a show on the Food Network that was cancelled for not being downmarket enough. Now he's on the Travel Channel and was recently caught in Beirut during the war's outbreak.

"Strange Places" - Mike Mignola

"Hellboy: Strange Places" is the latest collection of recent Hellboy comics and after the hit or miss nature of the BPRD books is a great addition. "Strange Places" lets the reading public in on where Hellboy went after leaving the too warm embrace of the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) at the end of "Conqueror Worm." Great book but only if you've read all the rest.