January 5th, 2008

Books 1 and 2

My New Year's resolution is not to buy so many books. I have a huge backlog of them I want to read. So I'll be keeping myself to purchasing one book per month or less, barring giftgiving and the Orycon Powell's run. On the spur of the moment, I figured I'd also keep track of them as I finish.

Book 1
Extras
Scott Westerfeld
2007 / Simon Pulse
I have now read every book by Westerfeld except his first, Polymorph, which I do have in my to-be-read stack. Extras is the fourth book in the Uglies 'trilogy', and does have a tacked-on feel, with a slim plot that revolves around his protagonist's misconstruction. The characterization is great, though, the action is frenetic, and it's nice to see another book with an economy based on reputation, plus the author's endless imagination is much in evidence.




Book 2
A Man and His Meals
Fletcher Pratt and Robeson Bailey
1947 / Henry Holt
Most of my interest in this book came from liking Fletcher Pratt's fantasy stories, especially the Harold Shea series. I didn't know of Robeson Bailey or interior cartoonist Inga (Pratt's wife), and was only vaguely aware of illustrator Bill Crawford (illos/obit). It's an interesting book, usually misogynist and intermittently racist, focusing for two-thirds its length on meat and decrying "architectural" cooking (when the cook is more interested in the look of the meal than the taste). It focuses a lot more on principles of cooking, without much in the way of recipes. There are a lot of historical references, like this (TMI for tender tummies):
The Indians preferred their meat high and kept the surplus until it began to rot. The river tribes liked the green, putrid flesh of buffalo drowned while crossing the ice and hauled ashore weeks later, 'so ripe, so tender, that very little boiling is required'. They ate the kidneys raw but the delight of an Indian gourmet was to eat his way down a ten-foot length of raw, warm, perhaps still quivering gut - in one snapshot by an appalled white the gourmet squeezes out the gut's contents just ahead of his teeth. Guts or boudins were delicious to the white palate too but they were first lightly seared above the fire. "I once saw two Canadians," Ruxton says, "commence at either end of such a coil of grease, the mass lying between them on a dirty apishdemore (saddle pad) like the coil of a huge snake. As yard after yard glided glibly down their throats, and the serpent on the saddle-cloth was dwindling from an anaconda to a moderate-sized rattlesnake, it became a great point with each of the feasters to hurry his operation, so as to gain a march upon his neighbors and improve the opportunity for swallowing more than his just proportion; each at the same time exhorting the other, whatever he did, to feed fair and every now and then, overcome by the unblushing attempts of his partner to bolt a vigorous mouthful, would suddenly jerk back his head, drawing out at the same moment, by the retreating motion, several yards of boudin from his neighbor's stomach (for the greasy viand required no mastication and was boiled whole) and, snapping up the ravished portions, greedily swallowed them.