Thursday, June 01, 2006

Under My Nose

My reading is a little behind lately. I am still working through Vikram Seth's book, Two Lives. It's a study built on research, correspondence, and interviews that attempts to depict his great uncle and aunt's lives. It's an incredibly captivating story – his grandfather's brother Shanti came from India, studied in Germany, and moved to England before WWII started. His dear friend Henny who was engaged to a German, also escaped to England and Shanti and she are later married. Henny's whole world in Germany was exterminated, and Shanti continues his life as a dentist even after losing an arm in the war.

The details of the war are in the context of this story and somehow so much more accessible to my attention span and me than any account of WWII I've encountered before. The description of Henny's sister Lola's last hours of life in Auschwitz were especially straightforward and horrifying. I think I read once that the Holocaust Museum in California has visitors follow the life of an individual through their experience. It seems like a really powerful way to understand history.

My book purchase this week was Ana Sortun's new cookbook, Spice. Ana is the chef at Oleana, a restaurant that is down the street from my house. She is a master of combining spices, rather than fats to control flavor in food, particularly Middle Eastern food. In the introduction she talks about how chefs rarely consider how people will feel After eating their food. She wants us to be in the mood to go dancing. Who doesn't want to be in the mood to dance?

I've only read a bit of it, but the anecdotes throughout the book of her trips to Turkey are fascinating. And like the way I understand history, I understand this book by following her journey to the spices involved. She is reading at the Harvard Book Store Friday night and at Porter Square books next week I think.

I was in Harvard Square last night and was tempted to go buy X-Men comics, having just seen the X-Men movies this weekend. It's way beyond where my reading stopped, so I can't say if they're following the story lines, but I can say it was really enjoyable. I've always felt at home with the mutants though. What is it about the effects in that series of movies that is so satisfying?

Instead I checked out the new home of the Globe Travel Bookstore, one of my favorite stores that had disappeared from its spot over by Club Passim in the last year. It's reappeared in a brand new building that's gone up. And they still have a couple of copies of my book. (I'd say "yay!" but it probably just means they only ever had these two copies and THEY'RE STILL THERE.)

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At 10:05 PM, Blogger astrid said...

I really didn't like the 3rd X-Men movie. It just betrayed the characterizations built up by the first two movies and the actors seem to just be going through the motions so they could get out of their standard 3 film contract.

What X-Men series did you read. The Astonishing X-Men is written by Joss Whedon. (I'm not a comic book nerd, but I am a Wikipedia nerd :) )


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