Monthly Archives: July 2007

The Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown

The members of the linguistics department where my husband is pursuing his master’s degree are the most social bunch of academics I’ve ever encountered–not that I mind. Families are always welcome, and I have developed my own friends among the students and spouses. Besides that, there’s the great food…and the bread. At nearly every social and pot luck, a fresh loaf of heavenly homemade bread appears, courtesy of B’s adviser. As a bread lover and inveterate bread machine baker myself, I began to quiz E on his baking secrets.

E quickly directed me to The Tassajara Bread Book, which issues from a Buddhist monastery in San Francisco that he himself had visited while residing in the area a couple of decades ago. I obtained the 25th Anniversary Edition from the library and intend to purchase my own copy as soon as I have exhausted my renewals. This edition was published in 1995 and includes a note in the back from Ed Brown, along with a few additional recipes. Continue reading

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The Barefoot Legend, by Gena Minnix

The Barefoot Legend generated more discussion between my husband and me than anything else we have read recently. If you can read between the lines you will have guessed that this means we had differing opinions, not that we haven’t read any other thought-provoking books of late.

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The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad

The Bookseller of Kabul is an outsider’s perspective on the inside world of an Afghan family. Asne Seierstad lived with a family in Kabul—a bookseller’s family—in the spring of 2002, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. This book is not so much about her experiences as about the family she lived with. Continue reading

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Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder

The long waiting list for Mountains Beyond Mountains required us to wait some time before it became available at the library. But through the first few chapters, we were hard-pressed to identify the reason for the popularity of this biographical account of doctor Paul Farmer (b. 1959). Farmer struck us as arrogant and narcissistic, and we found the voice of Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder flat and journalistic. Continue reading

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A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (post no. 2)

 

In our first post concerning A Thousand Splendid Suns, we discussed the story in A Thousand Splendid Suns. This time we want to consider some of the stylistic techniques that contribute to the popularity of Hosseini’s works.

Hosseini’s books are not adventure novels, but the action rarely flags. We are introduced to the main character (Mariam) and one of the central conflicts (her perceived rejection by the world) in the opening pages, and Hosseini rarely stops for sensory details or historical background. But that is not to say that Hosseini skimps on descriptions. He identifies salient points with such skill that he conjures up images and evokes character traits in a few powerful words, without slacking the pace of the plot. And rather than moving back and forth between narrative and description, he interweaves the two, so that the action only breaks off when Hosseini shifts the scene to heighten suspense. (Daniel Mason uses a similar technique in The Piano Tuner, when he relays historical background to the reader in the form of letters and articles read by the main character, so that reader and protagonist learn together.) (Warning: Plot revelations ahead) Continue reading

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