Thursday, May 8, 2014

God Bless Barnes & Noble, Amen

I almost bought this the other day when I was desperately seeking FLOW, but sanity prevailed and back on the shelf it went. I'd read a  review and added the title to my ever-growing Must Get List. I so wanted it, especially after I discovered it was a story about a young woman named Billie, and . . . Wait.

I just read this the other day, "Everyone in this world is somehow connected. So why not just be nice to everybody?" --Richard Simmons, American fitness instructor. This quote is from Issue 3, FLOW Magazine. It came to mind because of a serendipitous incident that happened within a two-day span. Okay, two days and after Ruth Reichl's book review appeared in The NYT Book Review a while back, and sincerely yours forgot about it. I didn't buy it then because I didn't have my coupons. I went back today with a printed list of five books I wanted to buy, and you know I couldn't remember Ruth's book title, right? Frustrated, I went up and down the literature/fiction aisle hoping for a miracle. I tell you, determination will win out every time. 

Hold on, there's more. You know how you get a lovely letter that transports you into the writer's zone? Good letters do that. It doesn't happen every day but when it does you want to sit right down and fire off a response, then don't because you want to read it again first. Right? Well, it happened to me yesterday. Made me smile. And the question: Am I reading a good book . . . Epistolary. That's the word. Epistolary. Don't you know I thought of the book whose title I could not remember, therefore I could not ask a bookseller to help me. I spent at least an hour before bedtime Googling books of epistolary fiction! Did I learn a lot or what? I did both. 

Did you know Dracula is an epistolary novel? I'd forgotten that! Oh, there are lovely lists of such stories. Beverly Cleary wrote Dear Mr. Henshaw. There's The Color Purple. Here is a bit of a read you might want to check out: 

Epistolary Novels and Letter Writing by Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market Library, April 16, 2014

Back to Ruth's yummy book. Here's an excerpt from the summary--the part that sold me:

"In a hidden room in the magazine's library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky (Who says plucky any more?) twelve year old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu's letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage . . ."

Okay! If the photo on the cover doesn't whet your appetite then I don't know what could. I've gazed at that bicycle, those large sliced mushrooms, the jars of what I want to be marmalade or better yet, honey, all that cheese . . . And the talk about spring, winter and fall cheese? Oh, my goodness! Have you ever tasted rain? Have you ever added black pepper to a cake? Do you have a singular palate? Would you rather eat a bowl of cereal for dinner or eat a bad meal? I make my calories count, let me tell you. If I'm gonna get fat from food it had better be doggone good. Or are you like Mikey? Will you eat anything? Are you crazy for cooking? Even if your answer to every one of my questions is "no," then read the book anyway.  The letters will make up for my no-foodie-but-I-love-good-food fervor. I'm on page thirty-one. 

And another thing? This book is worth a whole lot of letters and a bunch of future posts. I wish you'd read Billie's first-time tour of bits of New York with Sal. Heck, I'd have eaten that aged meat myself. Ruth knows how to work a taste bud. I'd have bought the book without my twenty percent off coupon coupled with my ten percent members discount. 

Read on. And let's talk! Write on.

Oops! I forgot this. Have you read it? Will you write to her? If you write and she answers, will you tell us about it?


  1. I miss wandering the aisles of Barnes & Noble. Ours is15 miles away and the traffic is too intense most of the time. Your post led me on a quest for more epistolary novels, and my Kindle app is loaded with previews now. I may have to take the trip to B&N just to see that glorious book and magazine of which you speak.

    1. Jackie,I sympathize with you. I used to drive farther than that before B&N came to our neighborhood. It used to be a big deal when I made the bookstore rounds: The Book Stop, Walden's, Borders . . . My daughter gave me a B&N Members card for my birthday about a decade or so ago. The coupons allowed me to expand my hardcover and art books collections.

      I'm not good at reading e-books. I've tried. I've even gone as far as buying an expensive book or two, thinking that would be an incentive to use my iPad more. I can pass on a good book or magazines, and I can tear up pages for art but cannot share an e-book. Can't write the margins either. :) But I enjoy previewing like you. Amazon gets my custom because they let me read just enough to know for sure if I want to head over to B&N.

      About FLOW Book. I went back the day after I bought my copy--there were two--and the other one was gone. I keep wondering who bought it. I'm not crazy about Issue 3 of the magazine but am holding my breath for 5. :) I can't afford back issues. They are just too expensive. You could really work some magic with that Book though! :) I made one of the envelopes. I should put all this in a letter. Byeee.