Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hamilton's memoir makes a reader hunger for more

Book 30: Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Estranged from her mother for more than 20 years, locked in a marriage that is about convenience rather than love is standard fare for a standard memoir.

But there is nothing standard about Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter.   Despite a personal life that's almost painful to read about, Hamilton has produced a book that is a joyous celebration of life; made joyous, made celebratory by her almost visceral relationship with food and its preparation.

The chef and owner of Prune restaurant in New York City, Hamilton charts her intimate relationship with food from her childhood in rural Pennsylvania to her reckless decision to open Prune.

It is in those moments when she is writing about food -- and Hamilton clearly thinks about food a great deal -- that this book is at its strongest and best.  Hamilton's passion and joy bubble forth.

Blood, Bones & Butter is the kind of book that makes you hungry for a thoughtfully prepared meal. It makes you want to dash into the kitchen and create something. It makes you want dinner reservations at Prune.

And, most of all, it makes you hunger for another book by Hamilton. It's that delicious.

Book 31: The Small Boat of Great Sorrows by Dan Fesperman

Fesperman's second book, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows, is a fast-paced, engaging thriller that charts the return of Vlado Petric, who first appeared in Fesperman's debut novel, Lie in the Dark.

Petric has been recruited by an American investigator for the war crimes tribunal at The Hague to help with a little matter in the Balkans. It's nothing much, a quick in-out and it could mean a new life for Petric, once a homicide detective, but now a heavy equipment operator at a construction site in Berlin.

Of course, nothing's ever so simple. Petric and the American are quickly ensnared in a complicated plot that involves war criminals from the past and present. Petric also uncovers tantalizing hints of his father's unsavory past. Hints that keep Petric nosing into the case even when he isn't certain he wants to know what he might uncover.

The Small Boat of Great Sorrows is a good a thriller as thrillers get. It's a engrossing, rewarding read.

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