Thursday, March 24, 2005

my reading table

Recently finished reading Anatole Broyard's Kafka was the Rage, a Memoir of Greenwich Village. He manages to single out various elements which made the world a very different place at that moment. While the art of the moment didn't grab him, the strange nature of relationships between men and women, and men and men, did. Broyard's descriptions of NYC's citizens beholden to what they read as much to their actual existences were enticing if exagerated.

Currently in the middle of M.F.K. Fisher's little book, A Cordiall Water, a slight survey of healing concoctions througout history.
plunder to return to southern Italy

"Wartime loot may summon up images of art treasures plundered by the Nazis from persecuted Jews, rather than a rare book acquired by the British Library from a respectable English army captain.

But now a 12th-century missal which has formed part of the library's collection since 1947, must be returned to its home city of Benevento, in southern Italy, according to a ruling.
It is written in the rare Beneventan script, unique to the region, which flourished from the 8th to the 13th centuries.

The ruling marks the first time that an artwork plundered during the second world war and held in a British national collection will be returned to its rightful owners."

- from a report in the Guardian.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

plus Dumas, s'il vous plait

'The Knight of Sainte-Hermine', a previously unknown novel by Alexandre Dumas, of Three Musketeers fame, has been discovered in the French National Library. Le Figaro reports the 900 page work will be published in France in June.

This comes on the heels of a survey of designed to find the 'Greatest Frenchman of All Time, which neglected to include Dumas, Sartre, Belmondo, and others. I was pleased, however, to see that fiesty food and anti-globalisation crusader Jose Bove made the list.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

MET acquires Gilman collection

The Gillman Paper Company collection of photographs is going to the Met. It is likely the most important collection of photography in private hands, and its arrival at the Met makes the museum one of the most important institutional photography collections in the world.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Just when I thought it impossible to start another collection of my own, I've been making piles of cookbooks on the floor. Cookbooks are nothing new to our home, as Samantha (a professional pastry "cook" - she won't let me use the "chef" word), has quite a collection, the growth of which I've been very involved with. But a recent trip to Maine and Doug Harding's shop in Wells, a perennial stop on our visits north, drove home to me how engaged I've become with these shop manuals for the kitchen. I was rooting in the art and poetry sections, while Samantha hit the cookbooks. She emerged happy with a small pile of books by Pierre Franey and others. But later when I viewed the cookbooks, something broke inside my brain, and I started pulling titles off the shelf for myself.

Later when we compared stacks, I realized that we saw two entirely different things in our quarry: she sought books for information she could use (although living with a bookseller she understands the aesthetic and other qualities of books), while I sought pieces of history. History in the information (about chefs, restaurants or even entire cuisines gone by), and history in the printed artifact. My finds included Pelleprat's L'Art Moderne Culinaire in a 1930's dust jacket, Rene Coste's monumental two volume work on coffee production, Paul Elliot and Luis Quintanilla's drinking manual, 'Intoxication Made Easy', and best of all a first of Elizabeth David's first book, 'A Book of Mediterranean Food"a book which British bookseller Nigel Williams call "an early example of gastro-porn'. Some other recent acquisitions include the first Zen Macrobiotic cookbook (I won't be using those recipes anytime soon) and a nice first of the most handsome bar book ever - the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Getting hungry now - must eat!