Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hm.. . . . ..

NOT a whole lot to talk about -- just that, this, the other thing, and Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars (Will Rick Fox woo her too?). You know. Fall coming (Fall into Reading!), sooner or later pumpkins (later) , school (sooner), yes all of it. Here's what's up today!:

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, $22.40) -- For good reasons, I haven't had the chance to read it. I haven't, in fact, even been able to see our galley for it. That's how coveted it's been around our neighborhood, and if the grapevine happens to speak a lick of truth about the book, its precociousness is well earned. In any case, here's what I've heard: a. it's as good Franzen's last novel, The Corrections, b., themes include marriage, love, sprawl, social entanglement decay, detritus, freedom, c., the scope is epic, d., St. Paul is the setting, e., 576 pages, f., if that's not enough to make you want to buy it, you belong somewhere else.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Heartful Hector

Short, insanely cute and a worldwide sensation to boot, Francois Lelord's Hector and the Search for Happiness (Penguin, $11.20) is a modern parable for the CNN-generation. And in fact, it's perfect. Not in a Doctor Philian, Sanjay Guptian kind of way, full of go-get-'ems and why-don't-feel-your-own-powers?, but as a quaint story that truly gets at the problem of happiness in the 21st century. Here's a quick synopsis: Hector, an inquisitive and moderately happy psychiatrist living somewhere in Europe takes a sabbatical in order to travel the world in search of a recipe for happiness. Visiting friends in China, America, and Africa, he plods and prods those around him with questions until at last he molds some sort of understanding. From getting kidnapped to falling in love with a Chinese prostitute (but cutely), Hector and his trip are as remarkable as they are fun and easy to swallow. (I know it sounds dumb but seriously, just try it.)


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Just Beerok It

With summer winding down faster than your kid sister's spin-caster hooked on a 10 lb dogfish, it's time at last to do the things, the thing, which suits summer best: drink a beer, read a book, yes, uh huh, Beerok. (And if you're new to Beerok here's a little 'what's up': good beer + good book + a few iotas of selective taste to match their characteristics = better, more intoxicating reading)

Aliens in The Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson (W.W. Norton, $19.16, hardcover) and Palo Santo Marron by Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales (Rehoboth, DE) -- Watson's newest (which came out in March, btw) is a compact, remarkably pitched account of modern American life, that just miraculously manages to be as funny as it is darkly tormented. Oh and it's good. Really good. Written in such a way as to reminisce of Wells Tower, the short fiction of Irving Welsh and maybe John Cheever as well, Aliens is a really fun book that is funniest when it's not funny, wryest when looking most deeply into its already-deep and murky depths. (To give a sense of them, one of the best stories involve the obese, a traumatic brain injury, an artist-biker gang, a bb gun, and a man who has truly given up.) This is where Dogfish Head's delicious Palo Santo Marron comes in. Measuring at %12 abv, the Palo Santo is a 'malt liquor' Dogfish Head style, strong, unfiltered, aged in tasty Paraguayan Palo Santo Wood, and pushing some sweet vanilla and rich caramel notes to boot. A good match to Watson's exploration of the dark and weird for its own tormented character (playful, yet exquisitely crafted), its numbing qualities (the alcohol-rich part), and its exoticism of the familiar. A tasty beverage and a great book! Matched! Let us know what you think and don't be shy to try out your own!