Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Hilarious Book and a Touching One

I've just read two books that I would highly recommend to friends and relations, particularly if you are in need of a good laugh and a good cry. "The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan: Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s" by Wendy McClure is witty, funny and a wonderful way to brighten your week. McClure apparently found some old Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 1970s in her parents basement, and after sorting through them, picked out the most heinous foods to comment on for this book and her blog. The results are marvelous and will trigger some fun memories in those of us who actually lived through the 70s and were on diets. Tuna Fish Cavalier is "Cavalier on the outside, crying on the inside" and Spinach and Egg Mold is explained as, "Did you know that some molded salads can blend into their surroundings to escape predators, just like chameleons? Observe the Spinach and Egg Mold as it begins to take on the appearance of the Formica countertop. Then again, it really didn't have to worry about being eaten anyway." You've gotta love a woman who can create juicy bon mots about truly horrible-looking foods, even comparing a badly sauced chicken to the movie "Carrie." There wasn't a flub or a dorky comment in the whole book, and it reads quickly at 120 pages. This book is destined to become a comedy classic, and I plan on loaning it to my neighbors and buying a copy or two for friends. I think anyone who enjoys British wit or just good old snarkiness will love The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan. If you're more in the mood for a realistic love story and a good cry, try Dorothea Benton Franks "Shem Creek." Billed as a "low country tale" Shem Creek is the story of Linda and her two teenage daughters as they move out of New Jersey and try to make a new life for themselves in Linda's home state, South Carolina. Mt Pleasant turns out to be a town full of characters and people that seem so real, you feel like you could call them on the phone for a chat. Frank has the ability to write realistic dialog and keep the pace of the novel moving at a healthy clip, so the reader doesn't get bored. The characters are all created with enough dimension that the reader wants to know how things fare for them, and is saddened or elated when things happen to them. There are some delicious food descriptions herein as well, and if you happen to like Southern cooking, you'll be thrilled with the recipes in the back of the book for fluffy biscuits and pound cake. I found myself pulling for Linda and her daughters throughout the book, and I cried at the touching parts as well as laughing at the antics of the more troublesome characters. It's not Shakespeare or Dickens, or even Steinbeck, but it is good, solid modern fiction, served up with a heaping cup of love for the Carolinas and for people willing to take a risk to turn their lives around. I plan on reading another of Franks books, just as soon as I can unearth one from the local library. Oh, and huzzah to my best friend, Rosemarie Larson, who just got a great job at her local library. Congratulations, fellow bibliophile!

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