Brookline Wants to Know Your Feelings

After many sessions of reading items from early 1990s teenage cruelty in comic form to exploring presidential assassinations, we are now moving on to even weirder, but probably awesome, reads. So far, we have seen and heard various emotional feedback; that is, having stories that make people angry, sad, happy, and confused. Luckily, this is exactly what we have been aiming for to make this Book Buzz group a true success.

How do this make you feel?!

How do this make you feel?!

Having said that, our next book happens to be a heavily debated novel, “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart, where all the reviews (professional and personal) are solidly split between ‘best book I’ve ever read’ and ‘this is the worst thing I could have ever picked up.’ We can’t describe exactly how excited we are to hear about everyone’s reactions to this particularly questionable choice since it’s expected to receive everything from disgust to delight, and those silly feelings in between. You may question why we are seeking these strange feelings that are not just of simple delight and pleasing satisfaction following a good read, but let’s face it: Shouldn’t a read that is truly worth the effort make you think and cause you to react emotionally in all sorts of manner? If the book you have read only makes you smile peacefully or be bored by the end, then you are not experiencing the amazing worlds of literature in the right way.

A brief overview of “Super Sad True Love Story” (which is technically not a love story) from Publishers Weekly: “Mired in protracted adolescence, middle-aged Lenny Abramov is obsessed with living forever (he works for an Indefinite Life Extension company), his books (an anachronism of this indeterminate future), and Eunice Park, a 20-something Korean-American. Eunice, though reluctant and often cruel, finds in Lenny a loving but needy fellow soul and a refuge from her overbearing immigrant parents.” A tip of the iceberg summary, this book is a mess of political takeovers, a cartoon otter in a cowboy hat, alternating points-of-views (diary entries vs online correspondences), and the nightmare of tomorrow. We don’t know what to expect, we don’t know how you and we will feel, and we just don’t know what’s to come.

Join us at Cannon Coffee down the still-intact Brookline Boulevard to talk about how this book made you react while gulping down angry mugs of coffee, happy shots of espresso, and sad cups of tea. Check you later!

– Brookline crew


Lili Coffee*Shop & Copacetic Comics

On the corner of 3038 Dobson St., nestled in the middle of Polish Hill, there’s a red brick building that holds three very exciting destinations:

1. Lili Coffee*Shop – coffee, food, music

2. Copacetic Comics – all sorts of visual fun

3. Mindcure Records – buy,l sell & trade

If you haven’t been to Polish Hill in a while, or thought that it was mostly houses and Gooski’s, then you’ve been missing a lot!  There’s a pool, a Civic Association, a place to make art, a gorgeous church, and these three shops, not to mention an all-around cute, friendly neighborhood.


Polish Hill! photo by flickr user niemster

When the Book Buzz committee was deciding on what titles to pick and where to discuss them, I immediately thought that we should discuss a graphic novel at Lili Coffee*Shop, because I’d recently been there for a talk and signing by 2 new comics luminaries and had had a chance to visit the comic shop upstairs.  Lili is a small space packed with charm (and a delicious tempeh reuben), and they manage to host a variety of events, including live bands and literary readings. Copacetic is a treasure trove of independent comics. It would be the perfect place to discuss a graphic novel!

If Dan’s post on Black Hole piques your interest, I hope to see you at Lili Coffee*Shop on August 20th to discuss the book!


Bone Marrow, birthdays, & basement tables

We were going to visit my sister for her birthday. She lives just a train ride away from New York City, and she knew exactly where she wanted to go – Prune. We perused the menu online to have a game plan ready. And there it was in the appetizers list – “Roasted Marrow Bones, parsley salad, sea salt.”

“I’m going to eat that,” declared my then-boyfriend.

photo by flickr user kthread

The menu at Prune can do that to a person. It’s small but intriguing, a selective list of simple things (fennel in butter) prepared with a discerning palate (fennel with Trout Roe prepared in Pernod butter). Overall, it gives one the feeling that the chef respects the ingredients and wants you to have a meal that revels in its own simplicity — a simplicity that’s not lazy, but comes from thoughtfulness and enjoyment, and might possibly give you a food option that you’d never considered before in your life, like bone marrow or Spatchcocked Spaetzle.

Like many restaurants in New York, Prune’s space is small, and we were put in a little booth in the basement, almost underneath the steps. I know this sounds weird, but it was a light and cozy space to linger over our meal and toast the birthday girl.


Gabrielle Hamilton & Debi Mazar at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. photo courtesy of AP images


If the reviews are to be trusted, Gabrielle Hamilton’s writing is much like her menu and her restaurant – fresh, inviting, and down-to-earth.  In a New York Times profile of her she says that:

“‘I wrote a book in a way that I would like more people to write books,’ Ms. Hamilton said. ‘I’m not afraid of the real truth. There is nothing you can tell me about yourself that is going to make me clutch my pearls.’

On the page and in the kitchen, Ms. Hamilton can be charming, tempestuous, persnickety, vulgar, poetic, provocative and mothering, sometimes all in the course of a single flurry of sentences. Whatever scars she has, she is not inclined to cover them.”

Right on! It sounds like this is a memoir to match Anthony Bourdain or Ruth Reichl.

I have my copy of Blood, Bones, and Butter on hold and can’t wait to read and discuss it over another example of food that’s both simple and complex: barbecue.

See you at Union Pig and Chicken!


More Gabrielle Hamilton coverage:

Her Daily Diet at Grub Street (NYMag)

Her Baked Eggplant recipe at Bon Appetit