Friday, October 14, 2011

Two very different books

Two books on my mind tonight. Late last night (too late) I finished Liz Lipperman's Liver Let Die. I'd call this first in a new series a "non-culinary" mystery. Jordan McAllister is stuck writing personals for a small-town newspaper and dreaming of a career as a big-time sports reporter when she is suddenly asked to take over the food column. Jordan knows how to fry bologna and that's about it--her cast iron skillet is literally unused, though she puts it to good use here. In one of the funniest scenes I've read in a long time, she is sent to review an upsccale steak restaurant. She confesses to the waiter that she doesn't much like red meat, so he suggests foie gras, convincing her that it's chicken. Confronted with the look and texture of foie gras, she desperateley stuffs it in a borrowed purse and escapes the restaurant. Her review includes more than  you want to know about force-feeding geese.
Jordan, like a babe in the wilderness, writes her column with the help of her assorted friends and neighbors, one of whom is an outstanding cook. Potato chip casserole becomes Budin de Papitas Frites con Pollo, and pork chop casserole is Cote de Porc a'la cocotte.
But murder is deadly serious, and the waiter who served her the foie gras turns up dead at the steps to Jordan's apartment. She's suspect #1, and her amateur attempts to find out who really killed J.T. and prove her innocence drag her deeper and deeper into something menacing that she doesn't understand at all. There's suspense aplenty before it all gets straightened out, and you'll have as hard a time as Jordan does figuring out who are the good guys and who aren't.
The other book is Lone Star Leaders: Power and Personality in the Texas Congressional Delegation, by James Riddlesperger and Anthony Champagne. The Bookish Frogs, a lay support group for TCU Press, had a potluck supper tonight. For a while, I thought we were going to have a dessert buffet but it turned out there were plenty of delicious appetizers and side dishes--from pulled pork sliders to spanikopita and mac and cheese. The desserts were plentiful and delicious, and the wine flowed. The best thing about those evenings is the interesting people who attend--had fun, for instance, chatting with a Facebook "friend" that I don't think I'd ever talked to before..
Lone Star Leaders was written by two political science profs, but it's not the dull scholarly book you might expect. Instead it's a coffee-table book full of anecdotes and enlivened by photographs and cartoons. Tony Champagne spoke tonight and was both funny and interesting, full of facts about the Texas Congressional Delegation that most of us didn't know, from stories about well-known legislators like LBJ, Sam Rayburn and John Nance Garner to some about lesser known legislators who have had a great impact on our daily lives. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop when he spoke--everyone was completely engaged. I"m looking forward to digging into the book.
Two good books--take your pick.


Jennifer Johnson said...

Hey, Judy. Nice post, a nice evening, and two nice books.

Jennifer Johnson said...

Nice evening, it sounds like. Interesting contrast between the books.