Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tolstoy Lied. . . and Another Book

"Tolstoy lied!" has become a kind of code phrase around my house for "life is good."  Tolstoy (and others) seem to think that misery is the only state of being that's interesting and authentic (have you ever read Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy?  Desperate unhappiness for 800 pages - I loved it when I was in high school).

The phrase is the title of the novel by Rachel Kadish and I love it: the phrase and the novel.  The main character in the novel wants to prove that happiness is interesting, worth knowing about, and real.  So the novel does not just end with a happily ever after, but gives details about the happy part.  And there is plenty of unhappiness and complications in the novel, too.  It is the best character study and plot I have come across in modern realistic fiction ever.  No murder or creepiness, either.

Now, on the other hand, I read The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch for a book club.  Essays from an undertaker about his vocation.  Interesting and tender at points (not nearly as well written as Tolstoy Lied), and tickled my funny bone when Lynch called the baby boom "a demographic aneurysm."

Here I was reading while eating Pumpkin Cornbread, a recipe my friend Crystal recommended to me from Recipes from the Old Mill to use up some pureed pumpkin in the freezer.  I did not like it for breakfast, my original plan, but with afternoon tea it is fabulous:  cornbread gussied up with dark brown sugar, pumpkin pie spices, pumpkin, and pecans.  I want to remember to make it in crisp autumn weather.

What are you reading?  Using up from the freezer?


Jennifer Jo said...

I'm not reading anything but photography books right now. I put several things on hold at the library, though.

rebwey said...

I'm reading my grandmother's cookbooks. The dried breadcrumbs in my freezer are nipping at my heels like a bad tempered terrier. All right, all right! Bread pudding it is.

Anonymous said...

(typed while blushing) I just finished a mushy Regency romance impulsively purchased from the grocery store. These days I need fluffy and lighthearted to lure me through the moving marathon.

Margo said...

Punk, moving is a special case. Most of what I read these days is not deep and serious - I want a little escape from life! I recommend Mary Stewart (9 Coaches Waiting, Madam, Will You Talk? etc.) or anything by Georgette Heyer for escapism you don't need to blush about :)

senolt said...

Ah ha! I was ripe for a good book recommendation. Now if only I can read it start to finish without too many interruptions...

I am reading "Blue Shoes & Happiness" by Alexander McCall Smith (#1 Ladies Detective Agency). It is just right for me now. 4 Stars better than "Clutter's Last Stand" (too much chatter)

Kylie M. said...

Pumpkin cornbread sounds delicious! One of Alex's favorite snacks is a gluten-free cornbread we bake with coconut milk, I should look for variations like adding pumpkin. I'm reading "Healing our Children," by Ramiel Nigel. I bought it after seeing a review title on Amazon "Yikes! Wacky Hippies Co-opt Weston A. Price!" Haha.

BLD in MT said...

I am reading Yamsi, the Story of a Man's Love for a Ranch in the Oregon Wilderness and aching to get my hands in the soil.

I will be checking the library for Tolstoy Lied. It sounds right up my alley. At my house we say "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is," which is a quote from a Kurt Vonnegut book, something his uncle used to say to make sure the simple moments were appreciated. I feel "Tolstoy lied," might work its way into our vocabulary as well.

Pumpkin cornbread sounds delightful and I have never heard of it before! I always learn so much in my blog reading.


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