Book talk: Donna Leon, Joshua Cohen and cookbooks

Finished “Suffer the Little Children” by Donna Leon yesterday. I picked up on this author due to a recommendation from Ursula K. Leguin in the NYT. It’s kind of fluffy but has some interesting stuff in it.

First of all, Leon has lived in Venice for 25 years and you a get a good dose of life there. The story in this one is pretty interesting. She manages to have sort of a mystery and a twist at the end without the traditional murder. There’s lots of food in it as well. It reminds me of a contemporary Italian equivalent of Simenon’s Maigret mysteries.

The main investigator, Guido Brunetti, is pretty believable.  You get to look over his shoulder as he manuevers through investigations and departmental power struggles. All the while he keeps his cool and Leon’s world view and political view comes through nicely.

At one point, someone is pontificating about the injustice of the police breaking into a residence and beating up someone. They comment, you can’t do this is here, This isn’t America you know.

Heh. How true.

After I finished “Suffer the Little Children” I walked over to the library and checked out three more by Leon. What the heck.

Acqua Alta (I read about half of this last night)

Also, picked up an impulse novel on the new shelf:

I admit the cover caught me. “Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto” by Joshua Cohen has that old “Schirmer Music” design. I opened it up and read a bit.  It looks typically experimental. Googling just now I find that  it’s his first novel. I don’t promise to read it but thought it was worth carrying home to look at.

I also picked up a couple of Italian cookbooks to complement Donna Leon reading:

This is quite charming. It is written by a chef from California who has a restaurant in Sacramento. It’s called the “Biba Restaurant.”   There is something about Italian cooking that is very attractive to me. I wanted to make pasta last night but Eileen was more in the mood for pizza. I made Spinach Romano the other day. It didn’t exactly work because it relied on careful treatment of simple quality ingredients (wilted spinach, tiny raisins, olive oil scented with garlic and pinenuts). Just as the recipe warned my final product tasted too much of olive oil and not enough of the other ingredients.

But with a little mozzarella it made an excellent filling for my breakfast omelet yesterday morning.

Anyway.. I also checked out

Nice photos and recipes.

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