A warm, homey collection of recipes from the lighter side of Italian cuisine, clear enough for kitchen newcomers.

ALWAYS EAT THE HARD CRUST OF THE BREAD

RECOLLECTIONS AND RECIPES FROM MY CENTENARIAN MOTHER

Mazzarella's debut provides a blend of family lore and recipes in this cookbook and loving tribute to his mother.

Benigna Preziosi Mazzarella lived to be nearly 108 years old. Her son thinks he knows why: good genes, hard work and her own home cooking, which, like the long life she lived, was unsentimental and unpretentious. She made her own pasta by hand—served in tiny, primi-appropriate portions—but when she wanted a fat-free, sugar-free treat, she turned to modern convenience foods like pudding and Jell-O mixes. The recipes—about 50 in all, from the basic pasta and lentils to “Mama’s Elusive Vinegar Chicken”—reflect this mix of New and Old World sensibilities. Beyond portion size, Mazzarella says his mama stayed slim her whole life by heaping on the vegetables and eschewing nearly all fat. Mama also worked as a seamstress until she was 80 and put dinner on the table for her family every night. That means readers won’t find too many labor-intensive or long-simmering dishes in this collection. Nor are there many hard-to-find ingredients (Mama Mazzarella never drove and walked a mile each way to the grocery store, which would quell anyone’s appetite for expensive oils), with one exception: pullia, or pennyroyal in English. Mazzarella devotes an entire chapter to the lengths his family would go in search of this beloved plant, and he shares a pasta recipe featuring the herb. Although Mama never wrote down her recipes, Mazzarella has taken pains to record them professionally, thoroughly and clearly; his prose is straightforward and his tone is light. Immigrating to America as a young adult, Mama raised her family in New Jersey, where she lived a life essentially free from drama. Mazzarella’s account of her life, taking up about a third of the book, is fittingly understated: no scandals, no heartbreak, seemingly no connections at all to the politics and events of the 20th century, even though his mother lived through every year of it. Just good luck, good health and good food.

A warm, homey collection of recipes from the lighter side of Italian cuisine, clear enough for kitchen newcomers.

Pub Date: June 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475913958

Page Count: 194

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2012

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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