While the militaristic minutiae of restaurant life and its psychological pressures might otherwise make for a gripping...

BACK OF THE HOUSE

THE SECRET LIFE OF A RESTAURANT

A psychologist and food writer takes a close look at what motivates and defines one of today’s most celebrated chefs.

Haas (Are We There Yet?, 2004) lives close to chef-owner Tony Maws’ famous Boston restaurant, Craigie on Main. Though the author wouldn’t deign to be a “foodie” by today’s terms—most restaurant experiences are, to him, “a colossal waste of time and money”—a dinner at Craigie one night launched him into an intensive, behind-the-scenes field study of life in the Craigie kitchen. Haas is painstakingly meticulous in his report, observing every member of the kitchen in turn, working alongside many of them and even interviewing Maws’ parents for the chef’s complete family history. The author is most focused on the emotional and psychological inner workings of the kitchen dynamics. As he analyzes the inherent tensions in chef–cook relationships, he muses on the cause and effects of Maws’ hot-tempered personality with the distance and interest of a biologist observing a lion taking out a pack of hyenas. Despite his intense closeness to his subject, Haas’ writing never takes on the authority of an insider. The book’s descriptions of what is presumably some of the most inspired food in the country are tough and dry, and most of the text reads like a court reporter’s transcript of conversations between the author and Craigie employees. Now and then, the pages-long dialogue is broken up by Haas’ patronizing diagnoses of various characters’ behavioral habits; the chef, evidently, has “father issues,” but even he finds that hard to take seriously.

While the militaristic minutiae of restaurant life and its psychological pressures might otherwise make for a gripping study, its presentation here is cluttered and clinical.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-425-25610-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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