NYTBR 12 August 2012: Most Winning Reviewers (Shortlist)

And the winners of the prize for most intriguing book reviews in the 12 August 2012 issue are:

Every Day, Every Hour, a first novel by Natasa Dragnic (translated from the Croatian by Liesl Schillinger)

Trapeze, by Simon Mawer, a World War II spy novel whose heroine, Marian Sutro, “dodges a multiplicity of unsavory individuals and enemy traps, equipped with one cyanide pill, two aliases and a memorized laundry list of agency verbotens.”

  • Ligaya Mishan (New Yorker contributor and Times columnist) for the review of In the Shadow of the Banyan, a first novel by Vaddey Ratner, about a young girl’s “struggle to survive under the Khmer Rouge.”
  • Pauls Toutonghi (author of the novels Red Weather and Evel Knievel Days) for the review of Alif the Unseen, a first novel by G. Willow Wilson, whose previous book was a 2010 memoir (that Toutonghi also interests self in reading), The Butterfly Mosque

Also, congratulations to Sylvia Nasar, author of Grand Pursuit and A Beautiful Mind, who in the course of her interview for the “By the Book” section manages to mention a couple of interesting books:  Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E. M. Delafield; The Widow Barnaby, by Frances Trollope; Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson; and the classics Middlemarch and Swann’s Way.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Las Vegas, August 2005

With Son at Hoover Dam, Just Outside Las Vegas, Seems Like a Lifetime Ago

For a span of about four or five years, we used to go to Las Vegas.  A lot.  Sometimes, twice a year.  (If dear blog readers feel any curiosity about  why out of the blue self should want to write about Las Vegas, please reference the post “First Day of Labor Day Weekend 2012” and read until you hit the part about Nora Ephron.  She apparently loved the place)

All we did was laze by the pool.  Or catch a show.

We stayed in the Bellagio.  Or Luxor.  Or the Venetian (for New Year’s, with Niece G, and Nephews W and C.  That was fun!  That was also where self placed a $20 bet on the University of Maryland to win the NCAA Championship.  Odds were six to 1.  Self could hardly believe it when the Venetian sent her a check for the winnings, a few months later.  Incidentally, it was also at the Venetian where, as we were boarding the elevators one night, The Man bumped into a friend from work.  What are the odds, dear blog readers?).

Our favorite place was MGM Grand, because of the Lazy River.

We were there when Katrina hit.  It was bizarre being in the desert, and watching the disaster unfold on TV.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

1st Day of Labor Day Weekend 2012

Franklin Street Café for breakfast:  the biggest plate of Eggs Benedict and potato wedges and cups of coffee.

Redwood City Farmers Market:  1 big eggplant, five onions, five nectarines (meltingly sweet), 1 1/2 lbs. of seedless grapes

At home:  green tea and red bean ice cream bar from Marina Mart.  Verdict:  Self has yet to find a good ice cream bar from the oodles of Asian brands that are sold in Marina Mart.

It is no longer summer.  Can self say that?  Because it is already September.

The Man bought four huge bags of organic planting mix from Wegmans.  Everything was on sale except for soil.

Self bought a Bauer’s Dracaena with reddish leaves (Original price:  $17.99.  Since yesterday was the start of the Wegmans annual sale, it was 30% off).  Then found out afterwards that it is not frost-hardy.  This is what comes of wanting to buy plants at the Wegmans annual sale.  She gets very adventurous.  And the plants all die.

Still reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck.  Self had high hopes after reading the first essay.  After two more essays, self began to find the book a little too precious, a little too superficial.  She stuck with it, though, which was good, because later she encountered essays about living in New York, and about Ephron’s divorce(s), and those were great.  Now, self is close to the end, and she really really likes it.  This would be an excellent book to give her Manang Elenita, if she and self were still on speaking terms.   Here’s the opening to an essay called “Considering the Alternative” : “When I turned sixty, I had a big birthday party in Las Vegas, which happens to be one of my top five places . . .  One of my friends threw twelve passes at the craps table and we all made some money and screamed and yelled and I went to bed deliriously happy.”

Of tangential relation, since self is trying to give a vivid picture of the state of her life, her UCLA Extension “Essential Beginnings” class is officially over.  And boy, was this last class full of beans.  They kept her on her toes every single day.

Finally, why does The Man make margaritas every single afternoon?  Self can hardly see straight, and now it is time to prepare dinner. (Self, quit’cher complaining!  Is it not a boon to be slightly tipsy while in the midst of food preparation?  As long as one does not get clumsy with the knives!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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