Goodyear’s exploration of this engrossing and morally complex topic provides a solid footing for hearty conversations.

ANYTHING THAT MOVES

RENEGADE CHEFS, FEARLESS EATERS, AND THE MAKING OF A NEW AMERICAN FOOD CULTURE

Venturing deep into the underground foodie culture, New Yorker contributor Goodyear (The Oracle of Hollywood Boulevard: Poems, 2013, etc.) plunges into the world of dedicated individuals who routinely skirt the boundaries imposed by common culinary practices and tastes.

The author is no stranger to ingesting foods many would forego. During a stint in China, she ate chicken feet and consumed a seven-course meal of dog meat. When Goodyear began hanging out with extreme foodies, the type of characters who consider insects, frog fallopian tubes and horsemeat as fair game for dinner, her food boundaries expanded. A dish composed of “slippery jellyfish in sesame-oil vinaigrette, and a raw oyster, poached quail egg, and crab guts, meant to be slurped together in one viscous spoonful” provided the author with an example of the “quiver on quiver on quiver” characterizing the “convergence of the disgusting and the sublime typical of so much foodie food.” Goodyear skillfully stitches together the philosophical, psychological and legal underpinnings of this emerging movement with the stories of those consumers who seek out the sometimes-bizarre foods. She explores bits of culinary history, how culture plays a role in what’s acceptable to eat and the ethical lines some individuals won’t cross when it comes to exotic eating. The author visited underground pop-up restaurants, which combine “the raucous dinner with random tablemates, and the self-conscious staging of an elevated social interaction,” and she spent time with the chefs who routinely traverse the outer limits of America’s new food landscape. One chef, irate at the amount of waste in the meat industry, believes meat eating mustn’t be easy but should force people to confront their food choices. Chris Cosentino, a well-known chef among adventurous eaters, “started serving the parts Americans no longer wanted to eat: spleens and blood and sperm; lungs, lips and livers.”

Goodyear’s exploration of this engrossing and morally complex topic provides a solid footing for hearty conversations.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59448-837-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both...

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SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (General Relativity: The Most Beautiful of Theories, 2015, etc.) shares his thoughts on the broader scientific and philosophical implications of the great revolution that has taken place over the past century.

These seven lessons, which first appeared as articles in the Sunday supplement of the Italian newspaper Sole 24 Ore, are addressed to readers with little knowledge of physics. In less than 100 pages, the author, who teaches physics in both France and the United States, cogently covers the great accomplishments of the past and the open questions still baffling physicists today. In the first lesson, he focuses on Einstein's theory of general relativity. He describes Einstein's recognition that gravity "is not diffused through space [but] is that space itself" as "a stroke of pure genius." In the second lesson, Rovelli deals with the puzzling features of quantum physics that challenge our picture of reality. In the remaining sections, the author introduces the constant fluctuations of atoms, the granular nature of space, and more. "It is hardly surprising that there are more things in heaven and earth, dear reader, than have been dreamed of in our philosophy—or in our physics,” he writes. Rovelli also discusses the issues raised in loop quantum gravity, a theory that he co-developed. These issues lead to his extraordinary claim that the passage of time is not fundamental but rather derived from the granular nature of space. The author suggests that there have been two separate pathways throughout human history: mythology and the accumulation of knowledge through observation. He believes that scientists today share the same curiosity about nature exhibited by early man.

An intriguing meditation on the nature of the universe and our attempts to understand it that should appeal to both scientists and general readers.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-18441-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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