Discover more from The Washington Review of Books
WRB–Feb. 19, 2022
Bards, Woks, Hare Krishnas, Ruins, Porsche, &cetera
Only one of the Managing Editors has ever been to Spa World.
To do list:
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Ted Gioia asks and answers the only question on anyone’s mind these days: “Could Medieval Bards Kill Rats with Their Songs and Rhymes?”
Christian Lorentzen considers on Substack “the great moral literature of our time”—crime novels, of course.
For Longreads, Ashley Stimpson on the strange survival of The Hare Krishnas of Coal Country. Pure Americana in Appalachia.
In The Public Domain Review, an excerpt from a recent UCP book on ruins: a survey of the vertigo-inducing “paper architecture” of Piranesi. [Better than this essay is Judith Schalansky’s story about one of the great engraver’s disciples in An Inventory of Losses. —Chris]
In the Sydney Review of Books, Alice Whitmore examines the recent, ongoing, overdrawn debate over translation credits.
Ira Nadel recommends his five favorite Philip Roth novels. [A fine list, though I’d swap out I Married a Communist or The Human Stain for Operation Shylock, whose opening set piece I reread whenever I catch the flu. —Nic]
50 years after The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola owns an unpublished piece of Balzac (speculates his GQ interviewer).
The Managing Editors are both on the hunt for new cars, but fear that, unless someone flags down this burning ship, their new Porsches won’t be coming in the mail anytime soon.
An interesting look into the decisions behind recent book jacket design, and how some authors get a uniform branding or re-branding. [I admit I actually really like the new Franzen covers. —Chris]
What we’re reading:
Chris hasn’t had a free moment for reading since Wednesday, but is considering revisiting Brian Doyle’s poems and checking out the slim Ferrante novel the recent Netflix film was based on this weekend.
Chris will be online this weekend, like usual.
Nic during a fit of insomnia read The Irony of American History several nights ago. He’s not sure what he got out of it, except a half-hearted wish that Reinhold Niebuhr were a Jesuit. Chris’ recollection that he means to read through the Greek plays this year reminded him that he promised that he would go through Shakespeare this year. [Did anyone else buy the old Yale Shakespeare set precisely for this purpose? —Nic] [Yes. —Chris]
Nic won’t have internet access this weekend, for which he is grateful.
Norton | March 8, 2022
The Wok: Recipes and Techniques
by J. Kenji López-Alt
From the publisher: The obsessive mastermind behind one of the decade’s best-selling cookbooks returns with the definitive English-language guide to the science and technique of cooking in a wok.
Whether stir-frying, deep frying, steaming, simmering, or braising, the wok is the most versatile pan in the kitchen. Once you master the basics—the mechanics of a stir-fry, and how to get smoky wok hei at home—you’re ready to cook home-style and restaurant-style dishes from across Asia and the United States, including Kung Pao Chicken, Pad Thai, and San Francisco–Style Garlic Noodles. López-Alt also breaks down the science behind beloved Beef Chow Fun, fried rice, dumplings, tempura vegetables or seafood, and dashi-simmered dishes.
Featuring more than 200 recipes—including simple no-cook sides—explanations of knife skills and how to stock a pantry, and more than 1,000 color photographs, The Wok provides endless ideas for brightening up dinner.
“The Mouths of Carp” by Mary Szybist
Seem to gasp that they are unfinished.
Below the bridge, above the gray surface of the water,
their heads upright as candles.
They open and reopen at their mouths.
I meant not to hesitate:
meant to feed them, but the way their mouths gape,
Look: the carp can withstand fasting.
Like the glass eyes of saints, their eyes
have cooled into unfocus,
their bodies have become sleek, their movements quick
and agile, and I’m glad just to watch their mouths
glisten, dumb as halos.
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Want to learn Latin, Ancient Greek, or Biblical Hebrew? Skip the silly apps. Take an online class with the Ancient Language Institute. We get our students reading, speaking, and listening to the language on the first day of class. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can learn one of these “dead languages” when you study it like it’s a living method of communication instead of a linguistic fossil. Group classes and one-on-one Tutorials are available. Scheduling is flexible. Perfect for students, clergy, working professionals, and retirees. Learn more at ancientlanguage.com.
Critically acclaimed visionary filmmaker Joe Pappalardo demands you watch RODENT KING.
Pray the Rosary daily!