Sunday, January 29, 2012

READING: Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love

This week's read:

Lara Vapnyar's collection of short stories includes the O. Henry prizewinner "Puffed Rice and Meatballs," but that's not why I bought it. I bought it because I like broccoli, and it was 50 cents.

I picked it up on a closing-day clearance rack at the Borders store in Marlton. That was a sad day for me, since I spent many Friday nights of my teenage life at that Borders, drinking blueberry Italian sodas and reading Dr. Seuss books. (Nerd alert. But that still sounds like a perfect night to me.)

I'd been meaning to read Vapnyar's Memoirs of a Muse, but this was cheaper and it was there. I love short stories to begin with, and I love food, so naturally I loved the concept of weaving food into stories of love and loneliness -- expired broccoli as a metaphor for a marriage taken for granted, a man who is more interested in his prostitute's Russian cooking than her services, and a riot over puffed rice.

Speaking of puffed rice, I hit a weird stumbling block in that story. The lead character is Katya. Katya, Katya, Katya, for seven pages. And then, three times on page 57, she's referred to as Ruzena. Then back to Katya on page 58. The lead character in "Slicing Sauteed Spinach" (which was actually my favorite of the bunch, no pun intended, I swear) is Ruzena. Did I get a bum copy? Some weird first edition with a printing error? Has anyone read the original version in Zoetrope or the O. Henry 2006 collection or the paperback or...anything?

My husband's theory: "That's what you get for 50 cents."

Anyway. Apart from that little little blip, it was a good, quick read. And it made me want some baked broccoli. (Shameless self-promo? Yes indeedy.)

Need to decide what's next. Mindy Kaling? Goon Squad? Reliable Wife?

No comments:

Post a Comment