Cookbooks, in general, are resistant to close reading, if only because their authors are barely present in the text, if at all. Yet sometimes we can discern a personality through the measurements and shopping lists. At Page-Turner, Kathleen Alcott reads the cookbooks of Nigel Slater. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen on reading cookbooks as literature.
The 87th annual California Book Awards, which “recognizes the state’s best writers and illuminate the wealth and diversity of literature written in California,” announced this year’s finalists. The nominees include Rachel Khong‘s Goodbye, Vitamin, Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s The Refugees, and Zinzi Clemmons‘s What We Lose (here’s the full list). From our archives: The Millions’ interview with Khong.
It’s hard to get a better glimpse of the postwar white male American writer than the essays of William Styron. In My Generation, a new book of collected nonfiction, Styron writes about a raft of his contemporaries, including but not limited to Philip Roth, James Baldwin and Truman Capote. In the NYT, Charles Johnson reviews the collection. You could also read Alexander Nazaryan on a book by Styron’s daughter.
The Skinny is acclaimed author Susan Orlean’s strangest work, hands down: a half-serious diet book that advises women, among other things, to cover tempting food with bleach. Not one to follow her own advice, Orlean’s diary of a week of eating for Grub Street features yogurt breakfasts, crackers eaten over sinks, and other basically realistic, bleach-free culinary adventures.