Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Lucky, A Memoir by Alice Sebold

I was introduced to the work of author Alice Sebold when I read her book, The Lovely Bones. And while it's been quite some time since I read Bones, I remember it being very beautifully written, ethereal despite its horrific subject (the rape and murder of a young girl). I didn't realize during the time that I was reading Bones that Sebold is a rape survivor. Her memoir, Lucky, is an account of that rape.

Sebold's memoir begins where the story does, the night of her rape. Her words, like the rapist's actions, are powerful, graphic, and violent. Yet, the rape is only the beginning of the story – the introduction. The rest of the book is spent dealing with the aftermath of rape and trying to find a way to recover.

So, what to make of this book? Well, it ain't no Bones. The writing style is drastically different. Where as Bones drew you in and filled you with emotion and a sense of optimism Lucky was detached, devoid of emotion, and, surprisingly, dull. Okay, so I'm not well read in the rape-memoir genre. And, yes, I realize it’s a grim subject. But, if you really want to read a rape survivor’s memoir, I suspect that there are much better ones out there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Awhile ago, I bought two books by author Junot Diaz -- Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I started with Drown, twice, but I never really got into it. Then, I mostly forgot about both books until recently. This time I picked up Oscar Wao. And, I'm glad that I did.

Through the book's narrator, Yunior, we are introduced to Oscar, an affable urban DR variation of Ignatius J. Reilly (The Confederacy of Dunces). Yunior, who is also a character in Drown, becomes a sort of keeper of Oscar, both during and after his life. An eventual friend whose devotion to Oscar is evident in the care that he takes in describing him, exposing him, explaining him, remembering him. And while Oscar's life is mostly a solitary one, his story is not. It weaves in and out, layer upon layer, from New Jersey to the DR and back and forth again, connecting him to his family, his friends, and, ultimately, his history -- the ancestral fuku ("the curse") -- that continues to haunt Oscar and the other characters in the story.

The book is an amazing piece of fiction yet it also informs us about the complexities of intimacy, identity, homeland, and oppression. Because of this, it's hard not to get quickly absorbed into Oscar's world and feel compelled by Diaz's rich characters and their stories. No wonder this book won both the highly coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Fountain on Locust

Bill and Willa and a Strawberry Fountain Soda

Bill and Willa and a Strawberry Soda, take 2

Bill had to go to New York this week for an environmental sustainability conference so we decided that we'd go out for dinner on Saturday night -- his choice since he was the one leaving. He picked The Fountain on Locust. It's located on Locust Street, east of SLU, in historic Automotive Row. The interior is casual, yet artistically sophisiticated -- a lovely art deco, soda fountain-ish decor. Maybe that why it claims to be St. Louis's most photographed restaurant. The menu consists mainly of soups, salads, and sandwiches and a variety of handmade delectable ice cream and chocolate treats for dessert -- think a newer, more upscale take on Crown Candy. Can I mention that I LOVE Crown Candy? Yes, I think that I can. That gloriously positive post is for a different day. Just to be clear though, I did like The Fountain. Even a lot. The food was good (Bill and I both ordered the hot roast beef melt with the St Louis salad and Willa ate the cheese foccaicia pizza. We followed with a banana split and a hot fudge/hot caramel sundae) as was the service and the location. I'd definitely go again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Onesto Pizza and Trattoria

Onesto Pizza and Trattoria had come up in recent conversations that I've had with people about restaurants that they wanted to try. An upcoming dinner date with my friend Laura provided me the perfect opportunity to give Onesto a try. Beforehand, not having met anyone who had actually been there, I went straight to my source for all things restaurant in the St Louis area, Sauce Magazine. I didn't read any reviews but I did scope out the menu which looked promising for a causal dinner or lunch. Laura and I planned an early dinner tonight so we arrived before the mad rush. And, it was a full house by 6:30 -- both inside and out on the patio. The wait staff was very friendly and, initially, very attentive but that waned as the restaurant became more and more crowded -- but I never felt totally neglected. Our order was place, salads were brought out, followed by the pizza that we had ordered. The Caesar, sans chicken (i HATE chicken), was very good -- just the perfect amount of all things Caesar. The pizza was hot and tasty with a sauce that was especially catchy -- not too tart, not too sweet (but definitely more on the sweet side). Overall - good food, good atmosphere, good time. I left feeling that another visit would be in order soon (calzone, here I come!).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Arrested Development

Summer vacation is a good time for me to catch up on the things that I didn't have the time to do during the school year. For me, it's a little TV watching. Not new TV shows or even really TV at all. Just one or many episodes of TV shows that I #1 missed during the year, #2 was curious about but didn't want to invest in at the time, or #3 TV shows that I miss because they aren't on anymore. This summer it's reason number 3 and the series is Arrested Development. AD was a critics darling that never got the following that it was due. I still can't figure out why people didn't watch it -- it's a phenomenal show-- well cast, well written, and well worth your time. And, I should mention it is HILARIOUS! So, I suggest that you order it up on Netflix, pop some popcorn, and watch all three seasons in one sitting. Trust me, it's time well spent.

Friday, July 03, 2009

City Garden

I haven't been yet -- maybe I'll get some time this week -- but City Garden looks awesome! It's just what we needed downtown. Can't wait to check it out!