Readers will be delighted to participate vicariously in the globetrotting feast of an inquisitive glutton who remembers that...

THE MAN WHO ATE THE WORLD

IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT DINNER

A book-length quest to understand the 21st century’s international gastronomic revolution.

It’s characteristic of London Observer restaurant critic and occasional novelist of some wit Rayner (The Oyster House Siege, 2007, etc.) that he can find fault even with the agreeable task of eating his way toward the world’s perfect meal. On the one hand, his job allows him to sit in restaurants “eating extraordinary food and having Dom Pérignon squeezed into my mouth from a South Seas sponge.” On the other, he rubs shoulders with wealthy Michelin-star worshippers: “self-satisfied, self-abusing, arguments for involuntary euthanasia.” The combination of zest for glorious gastronomic abundance and the nagging sensation that he’s propping up a corrupt system of gilded-age excess gives Rayner’s book a real-world frisson that rarely finds its way into food writing. Giving readers the grand tour without forgetting how much everything costs, he jets to modern foodie capitals from the expected (Paris and New York) to the surprising but appropriate (Dubai and Las Vegas). Though the author is hardly above hobnobbing with star chefs like Jöel Robuchon and cover-blurb-providing Mario Batali, he’s not afraid to stick it to those he considers not up to the task; Gordon Ramsay, who blurbed earlier Rayner books, gets a good dressing down in this one. A sharp-tongued hacker and slasher of food and chefs he doesn’t care for, such as Moscow’s kitschy, obscenely expensive and underwhelming Café Pushkin, Rayner is a besotted devotee when he finds something he loves. At the heavenly Okei-Sushi restaurant in Tokyo, the tab was $475, “the most I had ever paid for a single meal, though in my state of rapture, it seemed irrelevant.”

Readers will be delighted to participate vicariously in the globetrotting feast of an inquisitive glutton who remembers that somebody has to pay for it all.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8669-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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