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

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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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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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