Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Good Reading and "Normal" Activities


 Hello from sunny Florida, where it's beginning to feel a lot like summer! Hurricane season officially started this week and the typical rainy season pattern of late afternoon and early evening storms seems to be here to stay. We actually need the rain and, most nights, still get a decent sunset. So, no complaints yet!

We continue to add more pre-pandemic activities back into our lives. Last week I shopped for lamps to go with the new bedroom furniture, went out for lunch, and took in the fiber arts exhibit at the Marco Island Center for the Arts. Each activity brought an unexpected amount of joy... guess I'd missed things like that even more than I'd realized.


Read this week//

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

This is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel since The Lowland in 2013. In 2012, she moved with her family to Rome to experience total immersion in Italian culture and become fluent in the language. Her nonfiction debut, In Other Words, written in Italian was the result. It was translated into English by Ann Goldstein. Now, with Whereabouts, she has written her first novel in Italian and then translated it into English herself.  

This is a short novel, under 200 pages, and there really isn't a lot of plot. Instead, we have a slowly emerging character portrait of an unnamed female narrator. It's told in the first-person through a series of short chapters... almost vignettes. Set in various locations around an Italian city with chapters entitled On the Street, In the Office, At the Trattoria, etc., the narrator relays instances of belonging and isolation. And she seems torn deciding which she prefers... leaving the reader feeling slightly unmoored as well.

As always with Lahiri, the writing is the main attraction. This novel seems especially impressive since it was written in a relatively new foreign language. Give yourself a few chapters to settle into the short, episodic flow... you will be rewarded.



Current reading//

Good Company by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

As expected, my library hold came in last week. When I realized that  Marin Ireland narrates the audio version, I decided to use an audible credit and make it a read/listen combination. The Nest  was an enjoyable summer read a few years ago and, just over 25% in, this is shaping up to be another.


On the blog//  May Wrap-Up and June Reading Plans


In the kitchen//

The big hit last week was Chicken Yaki Udon from Vinkalinka. This Asian-inspired dish really did take just 20 minutes to prepare (be sure to cut the veggies before you start cooking) and was so flavorful! I followed the recipe exactly as written, using Worcestershire in place of the tsuyu/dashi stock. There were no leftovers, although I would have loved to have some for lunch the following day. I will definitely make this again and plan to experiment with shrimp and tofu, too.


 

I also made a  One Pan Roasted Fish with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from the NYTimes  using snapper. You could use almost any white fish, but may need to adjust the cooking time depending on thickness. If you can't get the recipe and would like it, let me know. I'll copy and email it to you.


That's it for my week. How was yours? What are you reading today?


The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.


43 comments:

  1. Did I already tell you that my new favorite is Sam Sifton's cod cakes from NYT Cooking? I'm definitely going to try this one. :) I read In Other Words (or listened to it, I think) but haven't read more of her books. I'd definitely like to.

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    1. Audrey - The cod cakes recipe reminds me of the classic crab cakes I love. I've read all of Lahiri's fiction except The Lowland, but never got around to In Other Words. Maybe I'll try that nonfiction first to complete her Italian phase.

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  2. Okaaaaay...I started reading your blog, went to library to find it, found it, then looked at a bunch of other library recommended books.
    Then looked at yaki recipe as it sounds delish, but had to find out if the noodles are gluten free (no) so googled for a brand of gluten free.
    Then checked fish recipe because I love fish and tomatoes.

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    1. Jackie - Whew! That a lot of work for reading one blog post, lol!

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  3. Yes, hurricane season has begun, and they are predicting another rough year. I hope their predictions are wrong.

    It's starting to warm up here after a lot of rain in the past two weeks.

    I ended up getting Whereabouts as a late addition to our Inprint subscription this year, and, after reading your review, I think I need to go give it a read.

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    1. Deb - I hope they're wrong, too... last year was a wild ride during hurricane season. The writing in Whereabouts is really beautiful, but be prepare for no real plot.

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  4. I haven't gotten around to Lahiri's Italian phase, but it sounds quite fascinating. I liked her earlier books. The noodles look good.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Mae - I really loved Lahiri's story collections, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth. Whereabouts is quite different. I hope to try her nonfiction, In Other Words, soon.

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  5. Oh, I did not look forward to hurricane season. We are better prepared (I hope) this year. We had to bug out for Michael and learned our lesson about prep.
    The Asian chicken dish looks absolutely wonderful.

    About the commenting - I saw your comments and had to approve them as I went that mode for a while. I had trouble with a "serial spammer" for a bit so I got tired of deleting the comments. Your comment showed up somewhere in the middle of the others that were published.

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    1. Tina - I remember when you guys had to leave for Michael... sure hope this year isn't as bad!Thanks for checking on the comments. I had a problem several months ago commenting on several blogs, but finally figured out what was happening. I was afraid it had started again...

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    2. I hope we are all spared this year! You can come to our house if you have to evacuate but then hope the storm doesn't end up north in Florida. That's be our luck.

      I had my comment permissions set so anyone could comment and I only approved if it was older than 6 days. that was so I didn't miss it. But then this guy kept leaving comments with a web link and I finally set permissions so I approve the comment. At least I know right away when someone does!

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    3. Tina - Thank you so much! We are leaving at the end of the month to visit family in NY and then we have rented a house in CT until mid-September, so hopefully we won't have to deal with hurricanes this season. We'll re-evaluate the plan next year.

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  6. I know that unmoored feeling. I'd like to read this book, Whereabouts by Lahiri!

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    1. Harvee - It was really fascinating how Lahiri was able to build that mood/feeling... she is such a talented writer.

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  7. It's like we are discovering our cities all over again isn't it? So glad you are getting out more and the fiber arts exhibit sounds great. I don't do any embroidery/quilting or other fiber arts but I really appreciate the creativity and all the work that goes into it. And, definitely adding the new Lahiri book to my TBR! Here's to a great week ahead.

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    1. Iliana - It's been fun playing tourist so close to home! The fiber art exhibit was so impressive... probably the most intricate and creative pieces I've seen. I posted several photos on instagram and may to a Wordless Wednesday here, but the photos miss much of the fine detail.

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  8. Yeah since you liked the Lahiri book ... I'll get to it. I have liked her others ... and it sounds like her life has changed quite a bit since 2013. Years ago her short stories were awesome. Have a wonderful week .... it looks hot there!!

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    1. Susan - This book had a very different feel from her earlier work, but the writing is just as beautiful. I loved her short stories.

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  9. Mmmm, those noodles look so good!!

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    1. Angela - I'll probably try the recipe with shrimp or tofu this week.

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  10. It is feeling great as we return to normalcy. Masks are now optional in most places except public transportation and doctors offices mostly with 55% fully vaccinated last I checked. I've read most everything Lahari has written. When she was in high school her father was a professor at URI and she worked at the town library which now feels kinda cool. Hope you have a good month.

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    1. Diane - Florida's vaccination rate is not that high, but fewer people are wearing masks. They are still mandatory in doctors offices and many other businesses still request that you wear them. We did not wear them at the art exhibit (so few people and very spread out) but I still wear one grocery shopping... small steps! Very cool that Lahiri worked at the library when she was younger. Somehow that doesn't surprise me.

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  11. I'm getting my hair cut this week and am so excited. Definitely a touch of normalcy. The noodles look amazing and I love the idea of using Worcestershire as a substitute. Definitely need to try that! Have a great week!

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    1. Katherine - Hooray for a haircut! My visit to the hair salon made me so happy, especially after such a long time. Let me know if you end up trying that noodle recipe. I'm hoping to make it again this week with either shrimp or tofu.

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  12. We drove home from Florida last week and arrived to cold and wet rainy weather. It's warm now but we were not happy with the weather when we first arrived.

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    1. Judee - I remember how hard it was to return to our home up north. Every year we seemed to push the return date later and later, then we started coming back to FL earlier. Finally in 2019 we decided to sell our house in NY. Still like to get out of FL for a bit of the summer though.

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  13. I have been impressed with Jhumpa Lahiri's skills as a writer and now I will add linguist to the list.

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    1. Helen - Lahiri is so talented... I can't imagine being able to write that beautifully in one language, let alone two!

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  14. Happy Summer Reading! I almost checked out Whereabouts for my audio credit until I saw how short it is. Went with Klara and the Sun instead. Hoping Whereabouts hold at the library comes in soon.

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    1. Care - I do the same thing with audible credits... hate to use them on ultra-short books! I went with the library for Whereabouts, too.

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  15. I am glad you are enjoying some activities we have all missed. I am also overjoyed whenever I can leave this place for an outing. Or even a doctor's appointment!

    Your food looks yummy! Thanks for sharing.

    I loved The Nest a few years ago, so I will check out Good Company. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - It's funny that even a trip to the grocery store makes me happy these days. Such little things... I hope that lasts for a while.

      If I remember correctly, the characters in The Nest weren't particularly likable... still interesting though. In Good Company, she seems to be getting even deeper into character. Enjoying it quite a bit.

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  16. Your recipes do look good. I also need to get out and do some in-person shopping one of these days. It's hard to buy a new mattress without trying it out. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - Yes, it would be pretty tough to shop for a mattress without trying it out, lol! Hope you are able to shop in person soon!

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  17. A jhumpa Lahiri book is something to look forward to. Thanks for the update.

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    1. Mystica - I love Lahiri's writing! This has a different feel than her earlier work, but the writing is still wonderful.

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  18. I can't wait to go to a museum again. They aren't quite open here yet. Everything opens here in California on 6/15.

    Good Company wasn't quite what I expected. Kind of how I felt about The Nest. Looking forward to your thoughts on it.

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    1. Ti - When we go to NYC to see our daughter, I'm also looking forward to visiting the museums - so many great ones there! I finished Good Company and really liked it... even more than The Nest.

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  19. That Udon looks amazing! I too Gage to the Cleveland Museum of Art a week and a half ago before they lifted the mask mandate and it felt so good to do something so inspiring :) Parents with kids still have to deal with risks, but being able to do things outside again is a bog deal here!

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    1. Stacy - I really loved that Udon dish! Will make it again tonight with shrimp. I understand how tricky things are for parents with kids right now... still such a concern for the virus, yet wanting them to try to do normal things again, too.

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  20. It sounds like you are getting out and doing more and more, thanks to immunity. We have family coming to visit at the end of July, so we'll probably play tourist with them. I'm also looking forward to browsing the shelves at our library and hitting a few clothing stores once we get back from our road trip. It's been wonderful to return to RV travel and everyone is in such good moods!

    The recipe for Chicken Yaki Udon looks delicious. It reminds me of a recipe I made years and years ago called Indonesian Bami. I'll have to give yours a try when we get home. I think I'll use shrimp since we already have plenty of chicken recipes and my husband gets tired of having it so often.

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  21. Les - I finally got a chance to browse at the library this week - bliss! It's been such along time. Tonight I made the chicken yaki udon noodle recipe with shrimp and it was a huge hit! My husband liked it even better than chicken, but I doubt I can get get him to try it with tofu. Looks like you're enjoying being on the road again... continued safe travels. Loving all your photos!

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  22. so many good books I haven't read. thanks for sharing.
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    http://www.rosetinz.com

    ReplyDelete

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