12 September, 2011

It's been quite the literary summer for the Duchess, whose plane flights and late nights have lent themselves perfectly to lots of great reading.  Most recently completed is Stone Arabia, a novel by the National Book Award-nominated author Dana Spiotta.  Stone Arabia explores the relationship between an adult brother and sister, who grew up in Los Angeles in the late seventies and early eighties.  The brother, Nik, is an artist and musician recluse living in Topanga Canyon who subsists on a bartender's salary; his sister Denise lives alone in Simi Valley, works a day job on Fairfax as a personal assistant, and tends to their aging, demented mother in her spare time.  The tension between their closeness and their alienation (Topanga to Simi??  That would end any relationship) keeps the book interesting until its fateful denouement.  The Duchess doesn't rate her books a la The Baroness, but on a scale of one to ten (ten being Gatsby or something along those lines), Stone Arabia garners a very respectable 7.5. 

The Duchess enjoyed way more than Stone Arabia the memoir Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, who helms the restaurant Prune in the East Village.  This really was a magnificent retelling of the unsuspecting culinary education of a top chef, and about her struggles as a woman in this still male-dominated field.  It's very well written until the last quarter or so, which slows down and meanders considerably, but the first half of the book is so delicious that the Duchess didn't mind.   

And finally, no summer would be complete without the necessary bit of pulp.  Thank you, Kitty Kelley, for The Royals, a juicy little compendium of all of the prurient details of the House of Windsor.  It was published just before the death of Princess Diana, and thus omits that tragic event.  But had Diana passed away before The Royals was completed, perhaps many of its more lascivious and scandalous tidbits would be missing.  Can't have that.

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