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Andrew Dunn (london)

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The Art of Cooking with Vegetables
The Art of Cooking with Vegetables
by Alain Passard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fresh, stylish and sensational, 16 Aug 2012
I was drawn to this by the funky collage illustrations, by chef Passard himself. Now, some will insist that a cookbook must have photographs, but I think this gives the book a fresh, playful and imaginative feel, which is just right for the recipes: these are thrilling. Arranged season by season, they aren't technically complicated, but rely on striking combinations. My current favourite is pyramids of pineapple with a sort of mahonaise of good olive oil, acacia honey, lime and sea salt - alchemy on a plate.

Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side of America
Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side of America
by John Jeremiah Sullivan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thrilling, cool and funny, 10 Aug 2012
The best essay collection since David Foster Wallace's A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING I'LL NEVER DO AGAIN. Like DFW, Sullivan is a midwesterner, and he is drawn to the underreported, the flyover subject. Whether it's cave art, a Christian Rock festival, the teenage skirmishes of Axl Rose or an obscure 19th century botanist, he makes it fascinating. Often very funny, Sullivan's voice is supple, smart, and occasionally engaged to the point of going gonzo (if you love Hunter S. Thompson then the opening essay in PULPHEAD will be swooping and screeching and diving right up your street).

How to be a Better Person
How to be a Better Person
by Seb Hunter
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, very funny, a worthwhile subject., 9 Jun 2009
Seb wants to volunteer at the local zoo, and finds they're incredibly reluctant to take him on. (Perhaps because they think he's a bit of a misfit: long-haired, self-questioning, authority-baiting, a keen eye for absurdity and pretence.) There's a kind of conversational dance - brilliantly conveyed - where he has to express just the right amount of interest in the animals. Too little and they'll think he's not serious, too much, and they'll think he's some sort of pervert (he worries). In the end, they knock him back anyway, with no explanation. Seb, infuriated, informs the reader that he's off to post negative comments on the zoo's website...then reports back that there is no website.
This is one of the funniest episodes in the book (you have to read it, obviously) and it also captures the way in Seb brings the reader along on his journey. It's very vivid (often toe-curlingluy awkward) and - you feel - very honest.
There are plenty of outstandingly funny episodes: the long-term and totally uncharitable volunteer Gladys who terrorises Seb while working at Oxfam, and the extended final section as Seb prepares to run a half-marathon (his training consists of speeding up every time he goes near a woman, and fretting about the best music for running). As with Seb's other books, the dialogue is extremely well written, revelling in the hidden rhythmns and strangenesses of the mundane, its superfical flatness the same kind of comedy vehicle as you find in The Office or Peep Show.
As the title half-seriously suggests, there are more serious things at stake here too. Seb occasionally agonises over his motives and behaviour - in this he well represents his belated, benighted generation - and has some sharp things to say about consumerism and atomisation. Probably the most powerful section of this ultimately optimistic book is the relationship between Seb and Apo, a Congolese refugee who he tries to help through the appallingly obstructive and unkind British system for asylum seekers.
It's honest and very funny - I wolfed it down.

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