Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Abridged Entry!

Forgive me this short blog entry but TBC is tonight and I am ill-prepared. I am leading our discussion of Elmore Leonard's 'Rum Punch' and I have just realized that the book doesn't lend itself to much discussion. I'll see what I can do. We are also choosing a new set of books tonight, this is very exciting. Here are the books I will be recommending:

The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michael Chabon 

Rob already recommended this months ago, but whatever. I'm going to take all the credit if we choose it. Here's the long-winded synopsis:

For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a "temporary" safe haven created in the wake of revelations of the Holocaust and the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud, grateful, and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle, a vibrant, gritty, soulful, and complex frontier city that moves to the music of Yiddish. For sixty years they have been left alone, neglected and half-forgotten in a backwater of history. Now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end: once again the tides of history threaten to sweep them up and carry them off into the unknown.

But homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has enough problems without worrying about the upcoming Reversion. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. He and his half-Tlingit partner, Berko Shemets, can't catch a break in any of their outstanding cases. Landsman's new supervisor is the love of his life—and also his worst nightmare. And in the cheap hotel where he has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under Landsman's nose. Out of habit, obligation, and a mysterious sense that it somehow offers him a shot at redeeming himself, Landsman begins to investigate the killing of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy. But when word comes down from on high that the case is to be dropped immediately, Landsman soon finds himself contending with all the powerful forces of faith, obsession, hopefulness, evil, and salvation that are his heritage—and with the unfinished business of his marriage to Bina Gelbfish, the one person who understands his darkest fears.

At once a gripping whodunit, a love story, an homage to 1940s noir, and an exploration of the mysteries of exile and redemption, The Yiddish Policemen's Union is a novel only Michael Chabon could have written.

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany - Bill Buford

Heat is Buford's account of working for free in the kitchen of Babbo, a New York restaurant owned by Chef Mario Batali. Buford's premise is that he considered himself to be a capable home cook and wondered if he had the skill to work in a busy restaurant kitchen. He met Batali at a dinner party and asked him if he would take on Buford as his "kitchen bitch"

East of Eden - John Steinbeck

Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Adam Trask came to California from the East to farm and raise his family on the new, rich land. But the birth of his twins, Cal and Aron, brings his wife to the brink of madness, and Adam is left alone to raise his boys to manhood. One boy thrives, nurtured by the love of all those around him; the other grows up in loneliness, enveloped by a mysterious darkness.


  1. yiddish policemen's just might entice j-fo to join said club.
    east of eden, not so much.
    heat, and my wednesdays will remain(ready for the pun?)unbooked.

  2. 1: obtaining membership in TBC is a long and drawn-out process. one can't just "join said club"
    2: East of Eden is awesome
    3: however the fact that you continue to refer to yourself in the third person (by a pseudonym) makes me think you would fit RIGHT in . ..

  3. Sam, j-fo likes that you:

    1. stood up for the integrity/exclusivity of your club while implying that my arrogance in expecting instant admittance might be unwarranted. mr. dunn, as I should have known, does not speak for the club as a whole, and I was wrong to misconstrue his invitation for a trial visit as a full-blown membership invitation. forgive me for assuming that: a) any all-male book club would be hurting for participants and b) I could waltz in and blow everyone's mind with my well-honed lit-crit skills. If it helps my cause, I do make a mean cocktail and am willing to bring hookers and cocaine upon request. However, any bizarre hazing rituals involved in your "long and drawn-out process" could be a deal-breaker on my end.

    2. expressed a such a full-throated endorsement of east of eden. I go back and forth on steinbeck, and am intrigued by the prospect of being re-convinced of his genius by an opinionated partisan.

    3. called me out on the third person self-referential deal. it's a new, trial behavior for me...I think it stems partly from my continuing amusement at my toddler son's habit of doing same, as well as from the power rush that accompanies the semi-anonymity of internet comment posting. Am now considering switching my pinatavalentines pseudonym from j-fo to 'he hate me', just because I can.