Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Martin's Links

Neil Gaiman and Steve Colbert face off on The Colbert Report. And, among other surprises, who knew that Tom Bombadil was so controversial?

Working at Kepler’s over the last three years, I’ve noticed that books are occasionally missing from where they should be. Sometimes they are just gone, other times they are shelved in the wrong location. (Such as memorably when we found copies of Naked Lunch by William Burroughs in the cooking section.) Still, any problems we have pale in comparison to the story below:

Words simply fail me here. Of all the books I would have imagined being turned into a musical, Das Kapital has to be close to the bottom of the list. And I thought Gotterdammerung was long.

And, ending today’s post, a Publishers Weekly review of a book that comes out in May. This looks like one of the more interesting food books of the year.

The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food—Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal, Regional, and Traditional—from the Lost WPA Files Mark Kurlansky. Riverhead, $27.95 (416p) ISBN 978-1-59448-865-8

A genuine culinary and historical keepsake: in the late 1930s the WPA farmed out a writing project with the ambition of other New Deal programs: an encyclopedia of American food and food traditions from coast-to-coast similar to the federal travel guides. After Pearl Harbor, the war effort halted the project for good; the book was never published, and the files were archived in the Library of Congress. Food historian Kurlansky (Cod; The Big Oyster) brought the unassembled materials to light and created this version of the guide that never was. In his abridged yet remarkable version, he presents what some of the thousands of writers (among them Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston and Nelson Algren) found: America, its food, its people and its culture, at the precise moment when modernism and progress were kicking into gear. Adhering to the administrators' original organization, the book divides regionally; within each section are entries as specific as “A California Grunion Fry,” and as general and historical as the one on “Sioux and Chippewa Food.” Though we've become a fast-food nation, this extraordinary collection—at once history, anthropology, cookbook, almanac and family album—provides a vivid and revitalizing sense of the rural and regional characteristics and distinctions that we've lost and can find again here.


Anonymous said...

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Boomka said...

What a great library. Almost reminds me of something Captian Nemo would have. Amazing globes and architecture. Fabulous.