Saturday, May 7, 2016

The New Food, Explained?

Cooked: A Natural History of TransformationCooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You will definitely enjoy Michael Pollan’s “Cooked” if you have enjoyed his other books. You will also enjoy it if you are a fan of modern nonfiction style with its sweeping statements and assumed expertise. Not to fault Pollan’s research, for he consults the experts and does his own experiments, and he writes well. I refer to certain things like his assertion that modern people “are not watching shows or reading books about sewing or darning socks or changing the oil in our cars…” (page 3) in order to justify his theory. This is a mark of laziness of thought and ignorance not only on Pollan’s part but on the part of those who let the statement pass without challenge, for not only are there countless books and blogs on those subjects, there are television channels and YouTube videos up the wazoo on these subjects and many others. People are interested in everything. But once you get past this authorial attitude, you go on an interesting journey of food, biology, and culture. Pollan takes on his journey of discovery that cooking and eating together as a family draws us into community not only with one another but with the entire web of life on the planet, as if he were the first to freshly discover this alchemy. Beautifully written, but a bit white male privilege arrogant at times. Worth reading (or watching on Netflix, there’s a documentary).

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Postmodern Hyperlit?

Genius: The GameGenius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Save your money for the paperback, if you are still interested. I bought 3 copies of this for me and two of my nieces. It's great storytelling, very much like a movie, where you forgive huge continuity errors because the premise is intriguing, the characters likable. It's very much a B movie though. My frustration is because it is not billed as the beginning of a series--and I would be hugely upset with a movie where it ends on a cliffhanger with nothing resolved, too. One does find out the winner of the Game, but none of the emotional hooks and dilemmas that made us care about the story are resolved. It gets 3 stars because despite this and to my shame, I would read a sequel if one gets published. But I hope it doesn't, because this cavalier treatment of readers should not be encouraged.

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