Articles by Matt
As the holiday season has already shown, “just one more”, seems to have become my motto. I’ll try and break this habit in choosing from the smorgasbord of delectable books distributed by Raincoast in 2011, difficult as that may be considering my…appetite.
You would think this means I would start with a cookbook, and it does. I will. Two of them actually, both beautifully designed and produced by Chronicle Books.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s (love that name), Plenty, has fast become the must-have foodie cookbook of the year. It is filled with stunning visuals and consistent recipes that promise to sway even the most ardent eaters of faun and fowl into dedicated vegetarians. Five words; Caramelized fennel with goat cheese. Much like with my wife, I fell in love when I saw this book. That love has developed and deepened as I have cooked. Awkward metaphor? Yes. Great cookbook? Definitely.
Ruhlman’s Twenty taught me more about salt and water than a day trip to First Beach. I am a better cook for having read, and re-read this book, and you will be too.
Owing to my four year old nephew and six year old niece, both of whom have developed a taste for my next pick, I have read and reread Herve Tullet’s, Press Here, more times than I care to admit, more times than I have the Lord of the Rings. That is saying something. It’s not often a book can elicit visceral responses from me within the first few pages. Even rarer are those books that can engage the reader, young or old, to pick it up, shake it out, turn it sideways, push on brightly painted circles and alternate between clapping, laughing, clapping faster, and laughing noisily in a rising crescendo as the book nears its end. The answer to TV and the internet is in this 8x8 board book, published first in France in 2010, and then picked up by Chronicle Books and brought to the Canadian market in 2011.
Grandpa Green is Lane Smith’s newest children’s title after It’s a Book. It is a memoir, a personal narrative on growing old and on being young, on imagination and forgetting, on the ingenuity of telling a story, whether your own or someone else’s, in a way that remains true to the heart. This book has my heart in its pages, for the beauty of the story and the images both. It’s one I’ll read to my child and savor for myself in the quiet moments.
Among Others, by Jo Walton treads softly, using echoes of the fantastic and a decidedly non-urgent magic to tell a fictional tale that could be otherwise completely more or less mostly real. It is a fairy tale and an elegant curtsy to the great stories and writers of the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Thanks to Dan for pointing this book out to me – I’ve never read anything quite like it. Here is what I emailed him after I was finished: “The way in which she weaves magic into the fabric of her life, and the story reminds me of the film Pan's Labyrinth, where, as the audience you aren't sure if magic really does exist or if her telling is something that is purely fantastical and without truth. The complexity of that question has kept me gnawing at it the last few nights, it's definitely a book I'll pass on to some friends for discussion when I'm done. PS — I think I saw a fairy this morning.”
Lastly, Paula Scher MAPS, Published by Princeton Architectual Press, surprised me with its beauty and with its complexity. Whether you take to this book for its visuals or prefer to delve into the theory behind the project, there is no doubting its resonance as an artifact of modern culture, and a remembering of an art form quickly becoming anachronistic. Sher uses language to (re)create her maps; some familiar and some less so. They are drawn from, “memory, from impressions from media, and from general information overload”, and her brief introduction, titled “All Maps Lie” outlines how all maps are fallible objects influenced by factors as trivial as personal preference, inaccurate information, and imagination. The maps themselves keep me coming back to them with new questions in mind, curious as to how the world looks through her copious and particular lens. Every page engages and invites us to follow along and recognize the unfamiliar in what is quite clearly a familiar landscape.
Just after we picked Spoons up from emergency in the morning. Not sure how he did it, but broke two bones in his paw. Ouch. I think I'll submit this to Chronicle Books' "Feel Better Little Buddy", 2nd ed
Here he is getting used to his cast...doing his favorite thing (beside eating and defending his territory)
Cast comes off in 4-5 weeks. Healing time is a little longer than normal because he is 11 years old in May. 60 years old in human years. I hope my whiskers look as good!