Recovering Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

One of my sometime hobbies is bookbinding. Over the years I have gotten pretty good at it thanks to many courses at the San Francisco Center for the Book, Kevin Smith’s many volumes on non-adhesive book binding and lots of practice. Last year, one of the instructors at SFCB mentioned that paperback books published in the 1960s and 1970’s were often sewn together rather than … Continue reading Recovering Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding by Dorothy Ko

I often tell my students that reading is like swimming, the only way to get better at it is to do it.  Which is only partially true.  If you really want to get better at swimming, and at reading, you need to push yourself to perform at a higher rate than you typically do. Sometimes, you need a coach. Sometimes you need to challenge yourself. … Continue reading Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding by Dorothy Ko

Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest by Matthew Restall

None of this is true, what we were told in history class if you’re my age,  but the story goes like this… When Moctezuma, the Aztec Emperor met Conquistador Hernan Cortez in 1519, he thought the Spaniard was the god Quetzalcoatl returned to fulfill a prophecy ending the empire.  Though he had just  a few soldiers with him, Cortez was able to use superior armor and guns … Continue reading Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest by Matthew Restall

Chocolate Croissiant Bread Pudding from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

This is delicious.  And very easy.  The hardest part is finding stale chocolate croissants at a reasonable price.  Fortunately, they are sold stale daily in six-packs at my local Safeway.  (That was what the kids call shade.) Basically, you put a bunch of torn chocolate croissants in an oven safe bowl.  Best if these are stale croissants but the ones Safeway sells have worked very … Continue reading Chocolate Croissiant Bread Pudding from How to Be a Domestic Goddess

Chocolate Coffee Volcano from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

You need to read all of the instructions first with Nigella Lawson.  You can just look at the ingredients, skim the recipe and begin.  You’ll be in for a nasty surprise if you do. The first time I tried the Chocolate Coffee Volcano from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson I had my work cut out for me.  You have to start with … Continue reading Chocolate Coffee Volcano from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

It’s Time to Fight Dirty by David Faris

Begin with this…..The Democrats have been the majority party, by millions of votes, for the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives for most of the last seven election cycles.  By majority I mean they have received more votes total than the Republicans.  Yet they are the minority party in all three. How is this possible? What can be done about it? This is … Continue reading It’s Time to Fight Dirty by David Faris

Savory Blue Cheese Crackers from How to Become a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

Nearly all recipes begin with turning on the oven.  So that’s what I did.  Set the oven at 400 degrees. Then begin mixing everything together to make the dough: one egg yolk, blue cheese, butter.  Add flour and cornmeal. Form into a flattened disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. But, Nigella, the oven is already on.  Should I turn it off … Continue reading Savory Blue Cheese Crackers from How to Become a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

Tomb Song by Julian Herbert

Contemporary Mexican fiction is the place to be. If we’re still including Roberto Bolano in the category, which I am. Julian Herbert’s new novel Tomb Song, translated by Christina MacSweeney, shares a love for language with much of the contemporary Mexican fiction I have read.  What language can do, the way it can excite, anger, frustrate, is something I’ve found to be a common denominator in … Continue reading Tomb Song by Julian Herbert

A Brief History of Paper Moons

At the end of nearly every school year, someone cleans out a classroom closet and leaves a box of books on the table in the faculty room. Take whatever you want. Typically, they are pretty slim picking. There’s really no use, beyond collage, for old textbooks anymore.  But this year I found a copy of Hal Morgan and Andreas Brown’s book on early real photo post … Continue reading A Brief History of Paper Moons