Monday, February 28, 2011

Japanese cooking: kabocha no nimono (Japanese simmered pumpkin)

kabocha no nimono

かぼちゃの煮物 (kabocha no nimono) is a very popular Japanese side-dish, especially in fall and winter when squash is in season. It has become a favourite at our house and it's super easy to make.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Persephone Reading Weekend

I hope everyone that is participating in the Persephone Reading Weekend has been spending some quality time with a dove-grey volume, or two, over the last couple days. I've had far less time to read this weekend than I would have liked but I did manage today to read a fair bit of my chosen Persephone, Every Eye by Isobel English. This is the one I received for last year's Persephone Secret Santa. Many thanks again to Teresa for choosing this one for me. Persephone Books really are such a delight to receive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

'The Fates Will Find Their Way' by Hannah Pittard

Fiction, 2011
Ecco/Harper Collins, trade pb (ARC), 240 p.
Source: Publisher/Harper Collins
From the front flap:
Sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell is missing. And the neighborhood boys she’s left behind are caught forever in the heady current of her absence.

As the days and years pile up, the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically. A collection of rumors, divergent suspicions, and tantalizing what-ifs, Nora Lindell’s story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust, friendship, reverence, and regret, captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her.

Told in haunting, percussive prose, Hannah Pittard’s beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind, the other families in their leafy suburban enclave, and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall. Far more eager to imagine Nora’s fate than to scrutinize their own, the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs, marriage, families, homes, and daughters of their own, all the while pining for a girl – and a life – that no longer exists, except in the imagination.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Love, loss and pinball

Pardon my absence here over the last couple weeks. All is well, I've just had a lot of things on the go. But even though I haven't spent a lot of time online recently, I have been reading.

Last weekend, last Sunday specifically, a few of us had a little Murakami #minireadathon over on Twitter, during which I read Haruki Murakami's first two books, the two short novellas, Hear the Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973. Having read quite a few of Murakami's other books, it's quite interesting to go back and see where it all began, and to spot some of the themes and ideas that continue to occur in his later work. Like Norwegian Wood which I read last month, these two stories are also set in a relatively normal setting. They don't have his now-trademark surrealism running through them. I have to say that I think I prefer his more bizarre stuff, but these were completely enjoyable to read as well, and a must for any true Murakami fan.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What I've been reading

I've only finished two books since I last wrote about what I've been reading, two weeks ago. Like I mentioned then, the next book on my reading stack was Murakami's Norwegian Wood. My first Murakami read, or rather re-read, of the year, although I intend to get to many more. I followed up reading Norwegian Wood by watching the film. In Japanese. I don't usually go to watch Japanese movies since my Japanese really isn't good enough without the help of English subtitles but seeing it right after reading the book helped a lot. And it was great to have the scenes from the book come to life on the screen.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

'Caribou Island' by David Vann

Literary Fiction, 2011
Harper Collins, eBook (ARC), 227 p.
Source: Netgalley/Harper Collins
From the publisher:
On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary's old dream, they're hauling logs to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in health, to build the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place.
But this island is not right for Irene. They are building without plans or advice, and when winter comes early, the overwhelming isolation of the prehistoric wilderness threatens their bond to the core. Caught in the emotional maelstrom is their adult daughter, Rhoda, who is wrestling with the hopes and disappointments of her own life. Devoted to her parents, she watches helplessly as they drift further apart.
Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island captures the drama and pathos of a husband and wife whose bitter love, failed dreams, and tragic past push them to the edge of destruction. A portrait of desolation, violence, and the darkness of the soul, it is an explosive and unforgettable novel from a writer of limitless possibility.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Hello Japan! February mini-challenge: Japanese cooking

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.

February's Topic

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: January links

Hello Japan!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for January. To celebrate the new year, January's Hello Japan! task was to try something Japanese that you haven't before. I really enjoyed reading about all the new food, books, authors, movies, and other Japanese things you tried. Just click on the links to visit everyone's posts.