Packed with interesting gastronomical morsels, but the dry presentation may send diehard foodies to the television to watch...

WATCHING WHAT WE EAT

THE EVOLUTION OF TELEVISION COOKING SHOWS

Comprehensive but dense chronicle of the genesis of food presentation in the media.

Collins begins with the “Early Period (1945 –1962),” during which instructional cooking segments on radio programs became as popular as their televised counterparts would years later. Radio spots during the early ’40s sought to better the talents of the modern housewife but also to quell the rising unease during wartime. Fictional hostesses Aunt Sammy and Betty Crocker shared recipes and household hints just as television burst onto the scene, a medium first exploited by epicurean vanguard and cookbook author James Beard in the mid-’40s. Collins notes that most shows were merely vehicles for appliance promotion and were hosted by women such as radio performer Alma Kitchell and inexperienced cook Monty Margetts, who “had to ask a friend what ‘marinate’ meant.” The phenomenon of legendary French chef Julia Child dominates the majority of the section covering the ’60s through the ’90s. Through her blunt, droll delivery, Child intended to “take French cooking from high society to the suburbs, from Park Avenue and Champs Elysses to Elm Street.” After Child, the “British dandy” Graham Kerr’s The Galloping Gourmet became “the first cooking chow to aggressively capitalize on the entertainment potential of the medium and to come at the genre from this angle.” These personalities, Collins insists, helped usher cooking shows into a more progressive era, opening the door for the immense popularity of gourmands like Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen and Martha Stewart. The author provides generous coverage of the Food Network in the final section, moving the narrative into the contemporary American consumerism culture.

Packed with interesting gastronomical morsels, but the dry presentation may send diehard foodies to the television to watch and learn instead of reading about it.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8264-2930-8

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Continuum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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