Monday, March 11, 2013

After years of being dormant, the jasmine plant in my dining room decided to bloom, delivering a delicate and sweet scent.  It's the way I imagine the tropics must smell.  The fragrance made it's way over the room divider, past the piano and found me settled in for the afternoon reading Memoir of a Sunday Brunch.

This book left me happy that I don't work in the food service industry, wishing I had at least on sibling, and trying to figure out why so many people are so very taken with this book.  I didn't dislike the book, it's just that I have enjoyed other memoirs rooted in family tales more.  Life with Father, Eight is Enough, and Cheaper by the Dozen all fall into that  category.
Like Julia Pandl, Ruth Reichl combined culinary adventures and family frenzies, but with stronger results. What I like about Reichl's books, beginning with Tender at the Bone, is that she lets the stories evolve slowly, unforced, and with no pretense of expecting laughter.  Sure I laughed at many of Pandl's stories, but the big picture felt unframed.  

 Pandl writes with total sincerity, sharing stories of nine siblings working in a Milwaukee area based family restaurant.    What was meaningful to her, she tries to make meaningful to readers.  I had a hard time warming up to her central player, her father - a man I found mostly unlikeable.  Mom understandably got lost in the shuffle as the family survived relocations, illnesses, and a fair amount of dangerous activity on the part of the siblings.  And, she does mention Albanese's, an unpretentious - OK- a downright scary - pizza joint in Milwaukee that I discovered man years ago.  Great pizza, though.

While I'm on a negative roll here, I have to say something about her style.  Pandl's skill shone in parts of the second half, but I was confused by the formulaic, quasi-poetic snippets. 

Enough.  If you liked the simple charm of Terry Ryan's The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, you will like this book. 

Just for kicks and animal decided her head needed a good rolling, and roll she did, resulting in some fine static.  Of course, by the time I got the camera out, her ear wings had calmed down considerably.

Early this morning, while surfing, I stumbled across the 1940 version of "Pride and Prejudice" starring Greer Garson as Elizabeth and nearly too handsome for words Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy.  This is hardly a faithful to the book rendition, but the Mrs. Bennett character makes it worth watching.  Mr. B's a hoot as well. 

Public Ticket Sale
Monday, March 18
Lincoln Park Fieldhouse
            For more info go to

Thanks for stopping by.  Maybe I won't be so crabby next week!