Monthly Archives: January 2010

Three Days Before The Shooting…

It’s been 52 years since Ralph Ellison published Invisible Man. The year after, 1953, he began work on his second novel, and won the National Book Award for the first. Professional commitments, doubt, and a 1967 house fire got in the way of his work. There was a definite anxiety and concern that this second novel could never live up to the first. In 1994, Ellison died and the novel remained incomplete– thousands of pages, notes, and 80 computer disks. The late 1990s saw a renewed interest and republication of Ellison’s work, culminating in 1999’s Juneteenth, a mere fragment of his second novel. Tomorrow, on the eve of African-American History Month, the entirety of this colossal work will be published. Weighing in at over 1100 pages,  the significance of Three Days Before The Shooting… cannot be overstated. One of the greatest 20th Century minds and a staggeringly powerful author,  Ellison deserves this. We readers are the luckier for having the opportunity.



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No Way to Treat a Book?

I grew up in a family that treated its books with respect. We children were admonished not to leave books open, face down lest the spines break. We looked with horror at people who folded the corners of pages to mark their place, or worse, licked their thumbs so their skin would stick to the paper when they turned the page. Still, I admit to being intrigued by the display of books that were cut-up, paper-engineered and refashioned into art object that was in the Dodd Center Reading Room a few years ago. And I am completely taken with this video from the New Zealand Book Council in which scissors have been taken to books. You will want to watch it more than once. Posted by Suzy

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10th Annual Culinary Olympics

10th anniversary Ice Sculpture

As a 5 or so year general book employee here at the co-op, I have worked many events for many different groups.  I have had the pleasure of attending events all over the state, as well as the various events that the co-op itself hosts.  The 2010 Culinary Olympics hosted by UCONN Dining Services was without a doubt one of the best events that I have ever had the pleasure of working.  Never before have I worked with such a large group of both knowledgeable and passionate people, and I mean both those involved competing or running the event, and those that came to see the happenings.  Everyone who attended the event; from the young high school students looking to pursue a career in the Culinary world, to the chefs, to the passionate foodies were all in high spirits and eager to experience a day of cooking and culinary experience.  Everyone including myself.

I will admit that I am a closet foodie……ok maybe not so closet.  I love to cook (although according to my husband not very well), I love to bake, and perhaps most important I love to eat.  I am addicted to the food network, and to food network magazine.  I am constantly in search of new recipes, some of which I might actually cook.  Every Sunday I am tuned into Iron Chef America and most evening I have FN on in the background as we go about our chores.  When I was told about this event months ago, I begged my boss to allow me to be the one to work it.  All week I have been anticipating with glee my Thursday activities.  All I can really say is that the day did not disappoint.

Two of the entries for the Recipe contest

Among many other things, there were 3 main competitions. The first was a recipe contest featuring many wonderful dishes including a chocolate cheesecake and Nori wrapped Tuna w/crabmeat.  These were all unique recipes submitted by their creators and they all looked mouthwatering.

Chef Angela Clarke intensely constructing her VW Bug Cake

Another wonderful Woodstock Cake

Another Wonderful Woodstock Cake

The second competition was a cake decorating contest featuring a theme of Woodstock.  The six entries were both creative and amazing, as well as far above anything that I would have been capable of.

My Personal Favorite

The final competition was called Boiling Point, but for those FN fans out there it was basically a cross between Iron Chef and Chopped.  There were 16 teams of 3 chefs competing.  They were given a basket of mystery ingredients and asked to prepare 3 appetizers having to use all of the ingredients at least once in 90 minutes.  The basket included things like crab legs, tomatillos and blue cornmeal. The organizers staggered the starting times of the competitors of this event, so at any point an observer could see several different stages of cooking happening at once.  Though obviously a difficult challenge for the chefs, they awed us all with the ease with which they completed their tasks.  All of the chefs were friendly and informative as they interacted with their audiences.  They shared their tips and experiences with those watching, creating a very energetic and captive atmosphere.

Cookbook Authors Melissa Pellegrino, Matthew Sciaballa & Robert Landolphi

The co-op itself sponsored 2 wonderful cookbook writers to come and attend the event.  Matthew Scialabba and Melissa Pellegrino are a down to earth and outgoing husband and wife team with a passion for Italian food and culture.  They have worked together to create a wonderful cookbook called The Italian Farmer’s Table.  They gave a short, but interesting talk about their work and were then available to autograph books.  I think what impressed me most about this couple was their sheer drive.  They are in their early thirties and have already both traveled abroad and published an impressive cookbook.  I can’t wait to try the recipe on page 272, Torta Di Ciocolatto, otherwise known as Chocolate Cake.

I suppose that I have run on long enough, but I just can’t tell you all enough just how wonderful this event was.  The event is annual, and I for one can’t wait for next year’s event. I only have one complaint…I didn’t get to taste it all!! And  I only have one question…..What do I have to do to be a judge next year?



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The recent  posthumous release of Nabokov’s final novel, The Original of Laura, gave me pause. He wanted it destroyed. His son had an excerpt in Playboy, after The New Yorker refused it. I took a look at it, and decided to wait. Instead, I bought Lolita– Nabokov’s best known work and perhaps one of the 20th Century’s most misrepresented novels. Most people think it’s a lust-filled tale of an overly educated pervert seducing a young 12-year old “nymphet”, the same way Moby Dick is just about a whale.  How wrong they are. It’s about limits and transgressions and passions(unfulfilled and otherwise.) It’s about identities-mistaken,assumed, or eradicated. It’s a snapshot of a very particular time in America, one whose mores still resonate today in television shows like Mad Men.The tale of Humbert Humbert’s obsession with young Dolores Haze is surely one of the most consuming and disturbing love stories ever captured in literature. And guess what… it’s really funny.



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