Sometimes you have to admit you don’t know enough to give an opinion. For Appetites – A Cookbook, I asked food and wine critic, Andreas Rompel, for his review. In the past I’ve judged Anthony Bourdain’s memoirs from a literary point of view, no problem, and I’ve admired and enjoyed his writing, “…a poetic, stream-of-consciousness food-rap.” But this time, it’s about food and recipes – about which I know just about enough to not ruin scrambled eggs completely. It’s Bourdain’s first cookbook in ten years, and it’s a demonstration of his expertise. The man knows food – no doubt about that. Continue reading
Reading Chinese novels in English
After many years of being tasked to read and review novels (translated into English) by Chinese authors, I have finally found answers to why I could not connect with so many of them. It’s an important realization, since I am now living in Canada. In case you say; “but so what?” just read on. The issue is wider than just writing style. Continue reading
Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy – coming up – will be the subject of the 100th book review I’ve written in the past 6 years.
I have my mother, Marina le Roux, to thank for a lifetime’s habit of critical reading. She may be 79 but she is still actively reviewing and assessing literature. The differences are that 1) her reviews are published in real media; 2) she writes in Afrikaans and 3) she reviews Afrikaans poetry in the poetry (book)club she started in 1998 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The club still thrives today, with interesting and serious Afrikaans poets under discussion.
As she would say, reviewing books is a thankless task – and why do we persist in doing it? I guess it is because it is an acquired habit and I feel critical readers make a better book market.
Confessions of a book Feinschmecker
And over the years, like a foodie, I’ve become something of a Feinschmecker when it comes to literature. An author needs to have a really original voice, something truly interesting to say, before I will praise their work. I take a writer’s skill at using the tools of their trade for granted. But a good read, for me, depends on what the work makes me think – whether it will transport, inspire and intrigue me. Whether it will make me remember it, like a superb painting. Whether the author has taken gone the extra mile to deepen the work.