Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cutting for Stone

Ah, the summer went fast but the book went slow.  It's hard to believe that yet another season has flown past, our eighth summer of good friends and good literature.  The Foxx hosted an evening par excellence.  We sheltered ourselves against the chilly Venice fog, ensconced in front of the fire, sipping red wine, and reclining on the Foxx's chic new couches.  Baked figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in pancetta rounded out the cocktail hour.  After all, what's TCOB without pancetta in all its meaty splendor?  A dinner of scrumptious lasagna and salad followed, perfect for what almost felt like a cozy winter night, and then back to summer again with salted caramel ice cream for dessert.  A true labor of love, but a lishy one that's well worth every churn of the ice cream maker.

Before diving into the book just yet (procrastination), El Jefe needs to report on her fantastic long weekend spent with Blondie in Sun Valley.  We had a blast, eating, drinking, shopping, hiking, moose sighting, and Labor Day parading our way through the vacation (who needs to know that most of the time we also were herding four kiddos?!).  And strangely, like a blind person who exhibits a superhuman sense of smell, it seems that Blondie's geographic handicap actually has caused her other TCOB connections to become more acute.  What book do you think had newly arrived in the mail, in all its hardcover glory?  None other than The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, our October selection!  Yes, Blondie has actually started to develop TCOB telepathy, predicting the book selections before the recap even comes out.  El Jefe takes this as a sure sign that Blondie one day intends to return (to Los Angeles).

O.T.'s favorite Ketchum lunch spot, "Grump's."

And finally onto the book.  The biggest challenge faced by Cutting For Stone was its length.  Those of us (about half) who conquered its 700 plus pages gave it high marks, while those of us who didn't wondered how on earth it ever got voted on given the length.  Nonetheless, the overall rating was still quite high, averaging just over 7. 

If you could make it through the story's rather slow start, you were rewarded by a fantastic and mystical tale in which exotic characters moved throughout intertwined plots, all set against the lush, velvety backdrop of Ethiopia (and Brooklyn).  Though falling just short of Rushdie's mastery, this book is a strong contender in the tradition of great storytelling (let's call it Rushdie-lite).  The author's prose is so elegant that the descriptions of dinner make your mouth water, and the descriptions of local poverty, violence and ignorance make your heart break.  It's also a tribute to the author's excellent writing that the medical information (even if, as pointed out by the Doctor, a bit rudimentary) not only was interesting but also added a level of realism that made the reader more invested in the story.  Though difficult to read about, some of the topics addressed in the book--such as female circumcision and the occurrence of vaginal fistulas among poor African women--are of critical humanitarian importance and the author should be commended for addressing them in a bold and public way in a work of fiction.  Dare El Jefe draw an analogy to the salted caramel ice cream?  (Yes, El Jefe dares.)  Cutting for Stone requires time and dedication, but pays off in spades.

The October and November meetings are at the homes of Ms. K. and La Mademoiselle, respectively.  In October, Logan's Run is bringing apps and the Highlander dessert.  Read early and often, and in case you have not yet developed your sense of TCOB telepathy, the books (in order) are below. 

Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
And.... for December consideration in case the boys don't come through, The Thieves of Manhattan, by Adam Langer.  xoej

1 comment:

  1. Great recap, El Jefe! Fun night as always. But maybe Blondie isn't telepathic...maybe she fixed the vote! :-)


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