Blog Posts by Ultra Violet

blogger photoUltra Violet is an artist, but not the one who hung out with Warhol at the Factory. She is also the only library staff member who was a Shakespearean research scholar and a member of the Meat Cutters' Union in the same year.





stripe


Fannie's Last Supper
by Chris Kimball

cover image
01/19/11
You may know Chris Kimball as the host of America's Test Kitchen on PBS. This book is a very entertaining account of Kimball's journey through the Fannie Farmer cookbook to stage an authentic twelve-course 19th century supper for twelve in his Victorian brownstone. Kimball's anecdotes about his rather sketchy Boston neighborhood were interesting. But of course, the trials and tribulations he and his staff faced in recreating Victorian cookery were the most amusing parts of the book. Apparently, mock turtle soup is made by boiling a whole calf's head. Kimball tried actual turtle as well, but they are a protected species now, so that complicated matters. There were more adventures with the calves' foot jellies for dessert. 
 
This is a must-read for foodies interested in the history of American cuisine, but it is also of interest to history buffs, in general. Kimball includes quite a bit of information on life in Boston in the late 19th century. 

The True Memoirs of Little K
by Adrienne Sharp

cover image
01/19/11
Prima ballerina, Mathilde Kschessinska, was the mistress of the last tsar of Russia. This novelization of her hey-day in the Russian court is a rich, extravagant  fairy tale. Purely enjoyable to read even if it weren't based on reality.

Elegies For the Brokenhearted
by Christie Hodgen

cover image
01/18/11
The life story of a character told through the remembrances of five significant relationships of her life. Beautifully written, Elegies for the Brokenhearted is a tender journey through the intricacies of human interaction.

Mary Modern
by Camille DeAngelis

cover image
01/14/11
A young genetics researcher makes a clone of her own grandmother when she discovers a scrap of bloody cloth in the attic of her Victorian home. This is a strange and interesting book, as much about human interactions as it is about cloning.

Death and the Librarian and other stories
by Esther Friesner

cover image
01/11/11
Friesner was called the "First Lady of Funny Fantasy" by Booklist, and although there is quite a bit of humor here, I also found these stories to be rather touching. Two of the stories in this collection are Nebula Award winners. I liked that they are very traditional fantasy stories set in contemporary times.

Miss Hargreaves
by Frank Baker

cover image
01/10/11
Here's a witty little book for readers who enjoy light British comedy. When I started reading Miss Hargreaves I thought it was recently written since I had gotten it from our New Books section. However, after I was half-way though it I noticed that it was originally written in the early 20th century and has just been re-published. I hadn't heard of Frank Baker; I was glad to discover him.
Tags:  

The Quickening Maze
by Adam Foulds

cover image
01/05/11
John Clare was a successful rustic poet in his own time. Set in England in the 1830's, The Quickening Maze tells the story of his time in a mental institution. Ironically, Alfred Tennyson was there at the same time, staying with his brother, Septimus, who was institutionalized as a melancholic. The doctor who owned the asylum, Matthew Allen, had his own problems. He had spent time in debtor's prison and became obsessed with his invention of a wooden machine to carve decorative wooden pieces. As he becomes more obsessed, and gets more investors to give him large sums of money (including Tennyson), Dr. Allen leaves the asylum in the care of a brutal man who abuses and rapes the inmates. John Clare manages to blackmail him into leaving the asylum.
 
I was not familiar with John Clare when I picked up this book, but I fell in love with some of the characters in the first chapter. It is obvious to me why The Quickening Maze was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. I look forward to more exquisite prose from Adam Foulds. Foulds has also written a novel called, The Truth About These Strange Times and a book-length narrative poem called The Broken Word.
Tags:  

Voltaire's Calligrapher
by Pablo De Santis

cover image
01/05/11
This is a fictionalized story of the calligrapher who writes for Voltaire in his later years. De Santis is from Argentina and writes with a South American's passion and intensity. You can't put this one down!
Tags:  

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
by Charles Yu

cover image
01/04/11
Yu is his own main character in this highly creative time travel novel. Several critics remarked about how "hilarious" this book is. I didn't really find it all that funny, but I enjoyed the originality and creativity.
Tags:  

The Homecoming Party
by Carmine Abate

cover image
12/29/10
An intimate look into the life of the people of Southern Italy, The Homecoming Party is a conversation between a father and son. The captivating character portraits really drive this story.
Tags: