The November Special Is…

“Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise” by Ruth Reichl.  I hope that everyone finds some inspiration from the former NY Times food critic and the delicious meals she reviewed.

     The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

From Publishers Weekly: “As the New York Times’s restaurant critic for most of the 1990s, Reichl had what some might consider the best job in town; among her missions were evaluating New York City’s steakhouses, deciding whether Le Cirque deserved four stars and tracking down the best place for authentic Chinese cuisine in Queens. Thankfully, the rest of us can live that life vicariously through this vivacious, fascinating memoir. The book—Reichl’s third—lifts the lid on the city’s storied restaurant culture from the democratic perspective of the everyday diner. Reichl creates wildly innovative getups, becoming Brenda, a red-haired aging hippie, to test the food at Daniel; Chloe, a blonde divorcée, to evaluate Lespinasse; and even her deceased mother, Miriam, to dine at 21. Such elaborate disguises—which include wigs, makeup, thrift store finds and even credit cards in other names—help Reichl maintain anonymity in her work, but they also do more than that. “Every restaurant is a theater,” she explains. Each one “offer[s] the opportunity to become someone else, at least for a little while. Restaurants free us from mundane reality.” Reichl’s ability to experience meals in such a dramatic way brings an infectious passion to her memoir. Reading this work—which also includes the finished reviews that appeared in the newspaper, as well as a few recipes—ensures that the next time readers sit down in a restaurant, they’ll notice things they’ve never noticed before. “

Be sure to check the post below with discussion questions about “The Year of Magical Thinking” and post your comments.

6 thoughts on “The November Special Is…

  1. Well, in theory after I post the discussion questions, people are compeled to answer and discuss the book in question by posting comments within that post. If you have any suggestions please share them with me.
    Thanks for the question.

  2. Hmm.. ok. I guess I thought the discussion questions were posted for people to think on before an actual discussion took place. I wasn’t clear on that.

    So. Suggestions. I have a couple.

    One thing you could maybe do as the leader of this online bookclub to get the ball rolling is to answer the questions yourself in a new blog entry, asking for feedback on some of the answers (i.e. this is what I think, what do you think?) I’ve found that with my real life book club, some people are intimidated by discussion questions (thinking they are too high brow or intellectual) so perhaps you could ask them just to weigh in on what they thought about the book overall.

    Could you do a little research into the author? Find an online interview or something to spark conversation and add to what people already know about her from the back cover. You want to offer something “extra”, some background or interesting tidbit about the author’s life, or any news (like an upcoming movie, a new book by the same author, etc.) Otherwise, it kind of comes off like: read the book and take a quiz. Not that fun, really.

    Also, do you have any idea who is actually reading along? If so, maybe you could email those people throughout the month (or visit their blogs and leave a message), asking them to check in by a certain date to your blog and add their thoughts/comments about what they’ve read. You’ll probably want to do at least a couple of reminders during the month, generating some interest and excitement (especially if you can dangle a carrot of “interesting news” about the author).

    Maybe you could have an additional blog entry asking whoever read the book to mention their favorite scene (or least favorite scene) or favorite quote (and leaving your answer to that question in the blog entry).

    Just some thoughts. Hope this isn’t too long or more than you bargained for!! I didn’t read YOMT so I can’t participate, but good luck. I might read along in November, but will have to finish the book for my real-life book club first.

  3. Lisa-
    WOW!!! Ok… I think all those ideas are great so I’ve got some work to do. That’s cool.
    I ordered my copy of Garlic & Sapphires so it should be here by the end of this week. Buddha is really good so far.

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