Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New Books

In case anyone thinks I've fallen off, I've kept my promise to myself to read more books. The most recent tomes I've breezed through include food-snob Jeffrey Steingarten's "It Must Have Been Something I Ate," Michael Connelly's "The Narrows" and a book called "The Piano Tuner," by Daniel Mason. This last one I chose at random in Mexico and it turned out to be excellent. Lucky me. It's about a (yes) piano tuner sent from England to Burma to (yes) tune a piano. Why that piano is in Burma is part of the mystery in a novel that mixes the lessons of "Heart of Darkness" with the bits of "Moby Dick." Quite strong, even if it ends on an off note (ha ha).

"The Narrows" also ends poorly, but Michael Connelly is one heck of a page-turning, beach-read writing kind of guy. The thrillers I've read of his have been on par with the best of Elmore Leonard, another pop writer with chops so strong the critics cannot ignore them.

Steingarten's book is the follow-up collection of food essays to "The Man Who Ate Everything." Indeed, Steingarten does eat everything. That's because he eats like a man with deep pockets, no responsibilities and a massive travel and expenses budget. Needless to say, he writes like few men on earth since what he writes about is so out of reach of most people on earth. Not everything, though. It was this book that sent me to all those great bakeries in NYC. I wish there was a comparable writer in Chicago, though I guess I always have the indispensable LTH Forum.


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