A lively, passionate homage to fine food.

DIRT

ADVENTURES IN LYON AS A CHEF IN TRAINING, FATHER, AND SLEUTH LOOKING FOR THE SECRET OF FRENCH COOKING

An American family revels in French culture and cuisine.

Journalist and foodie Buford, a writer and editor for the New Yorker and former longtime editor of Granta, follows Heat (2006), his chronicle of cooking in Italy, with an ebullient, entertaining memoir of life in Lyon, where he, his wife, and two young sons settled so that he could indulge his desire to learn French cooking. Planning to stay six months, they wound up living in the city, renowned for its gastronomy, for several years, during which Buford worked for a baker, gained admission to an acclaimed cooking school, and toiled among the staff of a famous restaurant. The first months were difficult, he admits: “each member of our small family had come to doubt the wisdom of the project.” But he and his sons learned French (the children more quickly than their father), the boys assimilated to school, and his wife pursued her ambition to earn a diploma as a wine expert. Buford honed his skills as a chef and enthusiastically steeped himself in the culture of the French kitchen, where apprentices suffer “unregulated bullying and humiliation.” As the author demonstrates, French kitchens are no less hierarchical and combative than those in Italy, and nothing less than perfection is tolerated. It “was all about rules: that there was always one way and only one way” to peel asparagus, for example, devein goose livers, and construct puff pastry; that the three principles of a French plate are “color, volume, and texture”; and that the secret of glorious bread, meat, cheese, and wine is the soil. “What makes Lyonnais food exceptional,” Buford writes, is “a chef’s access to the nearby ingredients” from local farms, mountain lakes, and rivers. “Lyon,” he adds, “is a geographical accident of good food and food practices.” He describes in mouthwatering detail the many dishes he cooked and ate and the charming restaurants the family visited.

A lively, passionate homage to fine food. (first printing of 125,000)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-307-27101-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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