Tasty morsels delivered quickly and reliably.

READ REVIEW

THE FORTUNE COOKIE CHRONICLES

ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF CHINESE FOOD

A quest. With eggrolls.

Debut author Lee, a New York Times metro reporter, has been fascinated by the culturally mixed nature of Chinese restaurants ever since she discovered from reading The Joy Luck Club in middle school that fortune cookies are not Chinese. “It was like learning I was adopted while being told there was no Santa Claus,” writes this ABC (American-born Chinese), who never thought to wonder why the food in those white takeout cartons tasted nothing like Mom’s home cooking. But she didn’t become really obsessed until March 30, 2005, when a surprisingly large batch of lottery-ticket buyers across the country scored some big money in a Powerball drawing with numbers they got from fortune cookies. Lee drew up a list of the restaurants that had served the Powerball winners and used that as a jumping-off point for a trip that covered 42 states and included stops at eateries ranging from no-frills chow mein joints to upscale dim sum parlors. As she explored this vast sector of the food-service world—there are more Chinese restaurants in the United States than McDonald’s, Burger Kings and KFCs combined—she learned about the science of soy sauce, the manufacture of takeout containers and the connection between Jewish culture and Chinese food. Lee’s charming book combines the attitude and tone of two successful food industry–themed titles from 2007. Like Trevor Corson (The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket), she embeds her subject’s history in an entertaining personal narrative, eschewing cookie-cutter interviews and dry lists of facts and figures. Like Phoebe Damrosch (Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter), she has a breezy, likable literary demeanor that makes the first-person material engaging. Thanks to Lee’s journalistic chops, the text moves along energetically even in its more expository sections.

Tasty morsels delivered quickly and reliably.

Pub Date: March 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-446-58007-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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