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Toro Bravo’s Favorites


Food writer Liz Crain and four-time James Beard nominee John Gorham, owner of the Portland restaurant Toro Bravo, on their favorite cookbooks. Their very own, ‘Toro Bravo: Stories. Recipes. No Bull’ is out now.

One of my favorite things to do on a lazy weekend morning is to wake up, make a press of coffee, grab a bunch of cookbooks from the kitchen and get back in bed with both. John likes to go through a stack of cookbooks as much as I do although he probably has three times as many as I do. I’m not a strict recipe follower—John obviously isn’t either—and flipping through the books is more a way to prime the pump and generate ideas. We both particularly love cookbooks filled with personal narrative in addition to the recipes—tales of discovery, adventure, debauchery.

The Pitfalls of Power

This Week’s Hot Reads

A Teddy Roosevelt bio centered on New York City, the tragic failure of American foreign policy in the Middle East, and a newly translated story collection from a wrongly forgotten Soviet author.

America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Hugh WilfordAfter Miles Copeland retired from his long career in the CIA, during which he helped organize the coup that overthrew the Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mossadegh, he developed a Risk-like board game in his new spare time. It was called The Game of Nations, and the description on the side of the box read: “Skill and nerve are the principle requirements in this amoral and cynical game.


Fourth Installment of “Millennium’ Trilogy on the Way

Jan Collsioo / AP

Stieg Larsson’s series to continue with new author.

With more than 75 million copies sold worldwide and two separate film adaptations, the Millennium trilogy is one of the most successful franchises of all time. However, the author, journalist Stieg Larsson, never saw what a hit his novels had become–they were all published posthumously. Now, a new writer–fellow Swede David Lagercrantz–will be continuing the story of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist in a fourth installment, to be published in 2015. Larsson’s longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson, criticized the decision by Norstedts Publishing Group to continue the series, saying "I think it's distasteful to try to make more money.” Gabrielsson currently possesses the unfinished manuscript to a fourth installment that Larsson himself was working on when he died; the rights to that manuscript are currently in dispute.

Read it at Channel NewsAsia

So Pretty

Holiday Coffee Table Books

From a massive atlas of the world to Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings, here are the 26 most beautiful, expensive, and fascinating art and photography books published this year.

Sheikh Down

The True ‘American Hustle’ Story

David Handschuh/AP

How much of the movie ‘American Hustle’ actually happened, and what was the real legacy of the famous Abscam caper it’s based on?

What is the American hustle? Is it quintessentially American to make wealth any way you can, to do it as quickly as possible, and to wheel and deal and bribe and con as if that’s the natural order of things? America, so it seems, was founded on swindling the natives, kidnapping Africans, the scams of the robber barons, the sins of the gilded age, the Teapot Dome scandal, the Boss Tweeds, the Huey Longs (All the King’s Men), and the Richard Nixons (All the President’s Men).


Banker: Pope Too Easy on Rich

Franco Origlia/Getty

Chris Lowney left seminary to work in international investment banking, where he saw what markets could do for the world’s poor. He has a few things to tell the anti-capitalist pope.

Both Pope Francis and I were Jesuit seminarians. He wanted to go to Japan as a missionary, but never got the chance. I did get to go there, but not as a Jesuit.I left seminary in New York after a few years when I realized I wouldn’t be happy as a priest. (That’s a comment on my life calling, not on the church I love or the Catholic priesthood). I suspect the pope would have blessed my choice to leave, since he recently wrote that the church’s representatives can’t be “sourpusses” or look like “someone who has just come back from a funeral.

Dear Sir

The Letter That Changed Modern Lit

The Daily Beast

A hundred years ago, Ezra Pound wrote a letter to the struggling and largely unpublished James Joyce offering to help him—and set in motion a literary revolution.

Can a single piece of unsolicited mail change the course of literature? In my opinion, only one letter justifies such a bold claim—a query sent a hundred years ago this month, on December 15, 1913, when Ezra Pound, searching for new talent, reached out to a struggling Irish author living in Trieste.James Joyce, thirty years old, had faced rejection after rejection during the previous decade. He had completed his collection of short stories, Dubliners, eight years before Pound contacted him—but Joyce still hadn’t found a publisher willing to issue the book.

Read These!

Best Books of the Year

From Jill Lepore’s and William Dalrymple’s histories to the novels of James Salter and the debut of Adelle Waldman.

And so it ends. Another year of reading, another year of surprises, disappointments, delights, regrets, forays and retreats on the page. I’ll demur from offering a one line conclusion on the whole year, for like most things in life it’s more complicated. But somehow I found myself reading more previously published books than in past years. That’s probably not a good thing for a literary editor to admit, since I am, after all, meant to be on the forefront of all that’s new and fresh and to tell you, my gentle readers, all about it.


The Week’s Best Reads

From New York’s homeless children to the retired FBI agent who disappeared on a rogue CIA mission, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.

Invisible Child Andrea Elliott, The New York Times There are more than 22000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression. This is one of their stories.The Lobotomy Files Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber, The Wall Street Journal A cache of musty documents lost to memory exposes a time when the U.S. lobotomized some 2,000 veterans. The nation forgot. But Roman Tritz remembers.Missing American in Iran Was on Unapproved Mission Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, Associated Press Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson was arrested in Iran in 2007 and is now the longest-held hostage in American history.

Royal File

Britain’s Last Great King

Time Life Pictures/Getty

This is the ultimate Christmas read for all you Downton Abbey fans: the fantastic life of Edward VII, the son of Queen Victoria, who was as famous for his mistresses as for his diplomatic skill.

It is not every historian who manages to combine meticulous scholarship with an unbridled appetite for salacious stories and speculation in the best tradition of royal gossip in the modern British tabloid press, but Professor Ridley manages to carry this unusual mixture off with splendid results for the reader. This very readable biography of King Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s oldest son and second child, grandfather of another “Bertie,” King George VI (the central figure in the film The King’s Speech) and great-grandfather of our present Queen, is like bacon-flavored chocolate, a canny blending of opposites, and surprisingly satisfying.


The Real Walt Disney

Hart Preston/Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images

Many of us either think of him as a deity—innocent and imaginative—or a demon—fascist and racist—but what was the man really like? Is the truth anywhere to be found in the new film ‘Saving Mr. Banks’?

Who was the real Walt Disney? There is a moment about three-quarters of the way through Saving Mr. Banks, the new Disney movie about Uncle Walt’s attempts to wrest the rights to Mary Poppins from her very protective creator, author P.L. Travers, that strikes me as a winking reenactment, courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures, of our continuing curiosity about the real man behind Mickey.In the scene, Travers (Emma Thompson), who is prim, snappish, repressed, and almost supernaturally English, marches into the Disney executive suite demanding to see the genial, resolute Walt (Tom Hanks).

The Way

My Literary Rome

The Daily Beast

One of the world’s best beautiful and charming cities is also the new home of novelist Taiye Selasi. She talks to Henry C. Krempels about her favourite haunts, why the city insipires her, and new writers not to be missed.

One hundred pages into her career as a novelist, Taiye Sleasi had signed a two-book contract and could count Nobel winner Toni Morrison as a fan. Perhaps it’s understandable then, that the next hundred or so pages that completed her debut took much longer to write, with an agonizing six-month block and two different emigrations in between. Now living in Rome (via Paris) the part Ghanaian, part Nigerian, British-born, American-educated author of the widely admired Ghana Must Go, is writing the second book set in the city she now lives.

Euro Visions

Greg Baxter's 'The Apartment'

Shahid Ali Khan/Shutterstock

When he first started reading The Apartment Elliot Ackerman anticipated any number of clichés might hijack the story, but he was pleasantly surprised by this quietly powerful novel of a veteran roaming through a European city.

On the first page of Greg Baxter’s debut novel, The Apartment, an unnamed narrator tells us, “I wanted to live in a cold city. I couldn’t say precisely why I picked this one.” I smiled reading those two sentences. I felt the same way when I began this book. I wasn’t sure why I’d picked it up, having done so before I was asked to write this review. Its concept was alarmingly simple: a man comes to a cold and unnamed European city. He’s there for reasons that aren’t clear, even to him, and he’s looking for an apartment.

Filial Dues

On the Road, Old Bean


Nigel Nicolson—publisher, son of Vita Sackville-West—and his son Adam set out to cross the United States by car and meet in the middle in Kansas. Jessica Ferri on discovering their out-of-print road trip—and its refreshingly honest account of their relationship.

A few weeks ago I found myself in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia with a week to kill in between weddings. I had long heard tell of Asheville, North Carolina's legendary used bookstores, so I drove up for two nights. One shop in particular, The Battery Park Book Exchange, surpassed my expectations - not only is it one of the largest used bookstores I've ever visited, it's also a champagne bar. As I managed an armful of books and a champagne flute, a spine tucked away in the travel section caught my eye: "Nigel and Adam Nicolson.


Face, Mirror of Mind

Mimi Haddon/Getty

A new book marshals a collection of studies to argue that the mind is a much more accurate predictor than we might have thought, and we need look no further than our own face.

In 1831, Charles Darwin made his historic five-week tour of the Galapagos Islands aboard the HMS Beagle, changing the course of scientific history and laying the foundation for modern ideas about the history of life. But he almost didn’t make it on to the ship’s register. The captain of the Beagle was fond of the works of a Swiss poet named Johann Lavater, who adduced that, “An exact relationship exists between the soul and the body, between the internal and the external of man.


A Picture Says It All

The British Library, via Getty

For authors and publishers one of the most fraught parts of publicizing book is what photo to put on the jacket. Novelist Jennifer Miller on what a photo says about the author.

In 1645, when the London publisher Humphrey Moseley agreed to print the “Poems of Mr. John Milton,” he requested that Milton have his portrait engraved for the frontispiece. Until this point, author images were generally reserved for religious pamphlets and posthumous poetry collections. But Moseley believed that showing off his living authors in classical poses—often wearing Laurel wreaths—would elevate their work, their personas (and, probably, Moseley) to the high status as England’s dead literati.

Bread Free

Why Wheat Is Killing Us

Mustafa Arican/Getty

Bread lovers beware! Gluten-free diets may not just be a trendy choice but something everyone should follow. New research reveals that proteins in wheat may be detrimental to all humans.

“Gluten-free” seems to be appearing just about everywhere these days, from restaurant menus to grocery store shelves and even on cosmetics labels. And with good reason. The gluten-free market is exploding. Packaged Facts, a market research company estimated that the gluten-free market in the United States was $4.2 billion last year and predicts an expansion to $6.6 billion by 2017.In a recent Time Magazine article entitled: “Why We’re Wasting Billions on Gluten-Free Foods,” business writer Martha C.

The Unknown

This Week’s Hot Reads

From the mystery of neutrinos to the tragedy of Newtown.

Neutrino Hunters, The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe By Ray JayawardhanaIn an age of Google and NSA scandals, there seems to be no limits to our intelligence. The pleasure of Neutrino Hunters, by the astronomer Ray Jayawardhana, is that it reminds us how little we actually know, especially on the subatomic level. Since their discovery in the 1930s, neutrinos—elementary particles that carry a neutral charge—have generated increasing interest within the scientific community.

Taking a Stand

When Salinger Spoke Out

Lost in all the controversy around J.D. Salinger this year was the few times he chose to take a public stance as in this 1959 letter against life imprisonment without parole.

2013 has been a year that the late J. D. Salinger would have hated. With the highly publicized release of Shane Salerno’s documentary film, Salinger, a companion book by Salerno and David Shields, and three unpublished stories leaking, Salinger’s life has been subjected to the kind of scrutiny he did his best to avoid once he became a well-known author.But overlooked in the rush to get the inside scoop on Salinger has been a side of him that is important to acknowledge—the public side.


The Man With Stories To Tell

Robin Hill/Getty

The perfect gift for any crime and mystery lover this season is a new omnibus edition of Dashiell Hammett’s work. Allen Barra on the enduring greatness of his work, even when there are no crimes.

In his famous essay on the American detective story, “The Simple Art of Murder,” Raymond Chandler, the man who walked through the door Dashiell Hammett kicked in, paid him homage. The creator of Philip Marlowe wrote of the creator of Sam Spade: “Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare and tropical fish.” If that seems a tad obscure to today’s readers, it’s because mystery fans no longer read early twentieth century British mystery writers such as Edgar Wallace and Dorothy Sayers or their later American imitators.

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