Lebovitz tells us much more than we really need to know, but this is still an engaging, entertaining, and delicious...

L'APPART

THE DELIGHTS AND DISASTERS OF MAKING MY PARIS HOME

The tale of an acclaimed chef who decided he wanted to live in Paris—at any cost.

In Lebovitz’s last two books about Paris (My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, 2014, etc.), it was clear that there was more about the City of Lights sweetly simmering just below the surface ready to be served up. Written in a lighthearted style with healthy dashes of satire, wit, and humor, this book goes into detail about his experience purchasing an apartment in Paris. He had already been renting there, but he simply had to have his own place. Having previously lived in San Francisco—he worked for 13 years at Chez Panisse—Lebovitz felt somewhat prepared since the two cities have much in common. They’re both “famously expensive” to live in and feature “a collection of small villages bundled together,” and the residents love to talk food and dine. With the assistance of his French partner and interpreter, Romain, the author took the plunge. From the start, he knew this would be far more complicated than he realized. First, there were the medical screenings. As his banker told him, “we don’t want you to die.” After deciding where he wanted to live based on markets, bakeries, and restaurants, Lebovitz scoured newspaper listings, met with agents, and talked to owners (that is how most sales occur). After finally finding a place and making an offer, he had to go through a morass of legal and financial paperwork. Nearly a year later, it was his, but much expensive renovation work was still to come, including, of course, a better kitchen and oven. “In addition to my shirt, I had nearly lost my mind,” he writes. Scattered throughout are French recipes, from dandelion flatbread to chocolate soufflé: “Although I have my share of regrets, using good chocolate to make a soufflé isn’t one of them.”

Lebovitz tells us much more than we really need to know, but this is still an engaging, entertaining, and delicious divertissement.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8041-8838-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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