1) The Hunger, by John Delucie

Yes, I’m obsessed with reading about food. (I remember my fave part of writing compositions in primary school was the chance to slip in a description of food.)

The Hunger is a fast-paced and energetic read. “Trapped in a dead-end job, John DeLucie called it quits and invested his meager savings in a ten-week cooking class. Upon completion, armed with no professional experience and the barest of basic skills, he walked into the renowned gourmet shop Dean & DeLuca and asked for a job. The next day he found himself chopping forty pounds of onions in the prep-kitchen basement. A glamorous new chapter had begun. DeLucie worked his way up the bumpy NYC food chain, from executive chef at La Bottega to Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, eventually finding his way to The Waverly Inn, which he opened with publishing magnate Graydon Carter and several partners. It was here that John married his mastery of simple but unique flavors with Carter’s A+ list of glitterati to create downtown’s hottest eatery.”

2) Valeria’s Last Stand, by Marc Fitten

I don’t really know what to make of this.. I don’t dislike it, but it wasn’t a pleasurable read. It’s rather.. 另類?

“Set in the fictional town of Zivatar (by all appearances, a sleepy Hungarian village of the post-Communist era that time–and capitalism–forgot), Valeria’s Last Stand is full of the kind of colorful, Chaucerian characters you’d expect to find in a fable. There’s Ibolya, the bawdy, hot-tempered tavern owner who taunts patrons with her ample bosom and cheap beer; a greedy, glad-handing mayor, desperate for rich foreign investors to put the town on the map; and there’s even a trickster in the form of a chimney sweep, a misanthropic scoundrel who arrives just in time to bring a brewing scandal to full-tilt. At the center of it all is Valeria, a feisty spinster who thrives on her neighbors’ scorn until the day she finds herself unexpectedly smitten with the local potter. Theirs is a tempestuous attraction, igniting a vicious rumor mill that reveals–with no shortage of humor or wisdom–the pride and prejudice plaguing the town.”

3) Where the God of Love Hangs Out, by Amy Bloom

A collection of stories, both long and short, some stretching over several chapters, showing love in various facets.. and how it matures and changes. Good for a quiet afternoon.

“Two sets of stories that read much like novellas form the book’s soul; the first of which revolves around two couples—William and Isabel, Clare and Charles—and begins with Clare and William falling into an affair that endures divorces, remarriage and illness. Bloom has an unsettling insight into her character’s minds: Clare’s self-disgust is often reflected in her thoughts about William, demonstrating the complexity of their attraction as their comfort with each other grows, until she finally accepts the beauty of what they have—albeit too late. The second set of stories, featuring Lionel and Julia, is more complicated; the death of Lionel’s father propels Lionel and Julia together in a night of grief, remarkable (and icky) mostly because Julia is Lionel’s stepmother and his father’s widow. As years go by, it is unclear whether Lionel’s difficulties are due to that indiscretion, but watching Bloom work Lionel, Julia and her son through the rocky aftermath is a delight. The four stand-alone stories, while nice, have a hard time measuring up against the more immersive interlinked material, which, really, is quite sublime.”

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