on famous books and their inherent derivatives



as often as not a famous book, say ulysses,  is helped by some come along. joyce apparently wrote often in ways infamously needing explanation. ulysses is by no means an effortless read, presenting a challenge, no doubt, but what of it? like doing a cold salmon pâté a la chapel, it helps to have an abstract to follow. alas, we do have "re joyce", an introduction for the ordinary reader. done this way it would make sense to read anthony burgess. he is, after all, a writer much revered for his own work. but what of others, those for the likes of cervantes, or nabokov, and now montaigne, in a recently much cherished account of his essays. there is of course that fabulous lecture of nabokov on don quixote. and a beautiful study of joyce by edna o'brien.


and then there are those one must read simply to relish the original. like how to live, a very peculiar life of montaigne, by sarah bakewell. i fell for her book on recommendation, yes, sadly from anthony bourdain, who ought to have known better. the essays of montaigne don't need a digest, they are the very essence of a life manual. a wee in the ancient way of the word, especially in translation. the savoir-faire of his essays make you live and enjoy life on your own, it is as though he answered all quest of even todays notions and prickly fastidioucies. when bakewell fawns i turn to the original. what better way to digest her dainties.
i readily admit i was enchanted by a review of rushdie on the enchanter, of nabokov and happiness. the picture of a pretty woman on the dust jacket was conducive, though the read was anything but. unless he was out netting butterflies, nabokov hardly ever was as happy as happiness might essay. through out light of my life, fire of my loins, even inside ada there are puzzles to ponder and luscious delights, sapid deserts, yes, ecstasies even, but happiness? i set aside the enchanter, regardless, and went for nabokov himself, and tagged speak, memory. 

so you ask: what the hell, but in between foods and the stove i like to read. and what better a challenge than to read those considered the very best. there will always be times when a soufflé disappoints, but as in my search for a new dish i often am tempted to try a new writer. oh, and incidentally, as a non sequitur, while in berkeley i made this fabulous tomato salad, with shredded chicken, chive flowers and basil.


all dressed pleasingly in a vinaigrette, furthered by a splash of stephanie's walnut liqueur, that well researched nocino. talk about ambrosial fragrance.