The Dark Fields

Beginning quote was from The Great Gatsby, which was a bit freaky b/c I’m currently reading that as well.
Well written & great plot- discovery of a “smart drug” changes Eddie Spinola’s life. He goes from toiling as a copywriter with writer’s block to being an integral part of the largest corporate merger/acquisition in history. The drug (MDT-48) enables him to read & understand at an increased rate. He learns Italian in a night, teaches himself complex financial formulas, becomes a successful day-trader who makes $250k in 2 days after borrowing $100k from a Russian mobster named Gennady. Naturally, Eddie’s upping his dosage to continue climbing the heights of the financial world. When Gennady comes by for his first payment on the loan, he steals 5 of the pills that are sittting in a ceramic bowl on a shelf in Eddie’s apartment. Gennady becomes hooked and begins bullying Eddie to put him in contact with his dealer. Meanwhile, Eddie is working on the merger of an ISP and a media company (AOL Time Warner, anyone?). And he begins having extensive periods of blackout, not sure where he’s been and what he’s been doing, just clicking ahead and finding himself mid-sentence eating dinner with a group of strangers. After one of these nights he finds walking to Brooklyn, unsure why. This was the night he killed a woman in a hotel room, punched a guy in a bar, and had sex in a club bathroom. Thus his world begins to unravel. If he stops taking the MDT, extreme headaches ensue.
Why am I telling you all this? Go read it!

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Voyage to the End of the Room

Tibor begins to bore me; his writing is ok but after pages and pages I find myself skimming to get down to the meat of the story. Funny, that, since I don’t normally enjoy meat.
For this story, 4 distinct sections, London, Barcelona, Yugo & Chuuka. Oceane is a dancer turned graphic designer who doesn’t like leaving her flat in London. She monitors the mail as it hits the floor (or what she calls the beach), finding enjoyment in debt-collectors attempts to get tough on neighbors who moved out years earlier. One day, a letter from Walter arrives, who has been dead for 10 years. This launches a retrospective into how she met Walter, in Barcelona, working as a stripper.
Barca: hanging out on the roof top with the pool, several people started dying by drowning or being toppled by cows or helicopter crashes. Walter’s 10 year postmortem death aludes to the serial killer among them, pointing the finger at Rutger. Oceane never hangs out with Walter in Barca, but runs into him in London as she’s playing a game with a friend at a cafe for who will be approached by an aquaintance first. She wins. Oceane wanted to give Walter the reggae CD that he had been trying to find for years after hearing it in a taxi; she had owned the CD for a long time, but wanted to approach him alone. The opportunity never arose, and back to London she went.
Yugo (and I admit to skimming at this point): Yugoslavia, Oceane’s travel agent Audley volunteers for the Serb/Croat war, is accused of spying by his own side, and is saved when his mum arrives.
Chuuka: Walter’s final letter is in the hands of a chap named Bruno, in Chuuka in a far off land. Oceane hires Audley to go find the letter. While he’s there, he spots a statue of Rutgers. Bruno turns out to be a pyscho living on an aircraft carrier, and of no help in regards to the letter. Fortunately, Walter has also mailed a copy of the letter to Oceane, as insurance.
Some muddled stuff at the end about Audley being harrassed by Roberto, one of his Yugo captors. Ugh. Not recommended.

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Ask the Headhunter

Very simple summation would be: to win the job you have to do the job. Go into an interview and present yourself as doing the job; have an understanding of the problem the manager is trying to solve by hiring you, and solve the problem, or walk through the steps you would take to solve.
Basic steps
1. what do you do best?
2. what value do you offer?
3. basic research on the industry
4. identify companies you want to work for
5. gather information on those companies
6. make inside contacts
7. become an insider
8. map your skills onto a company’s needs
9. ask & answer the four questions: (understand the work that needs to be done? demonstrate you can do the job? show you can do the job as the employer wants it done? prove you can do the job profitably for employer and yourself)
10. talk with hiring manager to find out her problems/challenges
11. plan how you’ll do the job in the interview
12. meet with the hiring manager/do the job in the interview/answer the 4 questions in the interview
13. do you want an offer? is the job right for you?
15. win an offer, negotiate the offer and the job
16. interview the company
17. accept the offer

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Cooking for Mr. Latte

Nothing like a foodie book to make you want to cook more! Grains of paradise? Sure thing. I’m tempted to copy some of the recipes into the blog to share with all.
Well written journal interspersed with recipes for the food lover. I originally found Ms. Hesser thru an article in the New Yorker (I think) for food to bring on a plane– that essay is also in this book. Mouth watering, and interesting perspective on other foodies (Steingarten, etc).

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LZ enjoys…

This is a list of my recent favorites; also check out the list of annual Best-ofs.
(Updated Aug 2014, just covering the best books I’ve read over last 8 months)
Dwight MacDonal’s collection of essays are stunning
Masha Tupisyn’s Beauty Talk & Monsters
Barbara Tuchman’s history of the 14th century
Renata Alder’s Speedboat
Really anything by Virginia Woolf, but Death of the Moth is a good place to start.
Thoreau’s Journals
Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook
Megan Marshall’s bio of Margaret Fuller

As of June 2011:
Yarborough by B.H. Friedman
The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
Consider the Oyster by MFK Fisher
You Can’t Win by Jack Black
Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
The Gay Place by Billy Lee Brammer
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Pacific by Mark Helprin
Women by Charles Bukowski
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
The Tanners by Robert Walser
The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald
What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer

Mixed Greens with Herbed Vinegar Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano)
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
5 handfuls of young lettuces (arugula, peppercress, etc)
1/4 cup chervil & tarragon leaves

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Macaroni & Cheese

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups milk
1.5 cups Monterey Jack, grated
3.5 cups cooked macaroni
1 cup canned plum tomatoes, (reserve the juice)
3/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper
350 degree oven, butter a casserole dish; in saucepan, heat the butter until foamy, sprinkle flour in, whisk until it turns golden, slowly pour in milk & continue whisking. Simmer over medium & let thicken. Stir in cheese, remove from heat. Fold in macaroni, add tomatoes by squeezing them thru fingers into small pieces. Mixture should be loose like thin batter, if too thick add milk or drained tomato juice.
Pour into casserole, spread breadcrumbs over surface, sprinkle more cheese (1/4 cup), & grind pepper over top. Bake 25 minutes.
From: Cooking for Mr. Latte

Haricots Verts with Walnuts and Walnut Oil

1/3 cup walnuts
Sea salt
3/4 lb. haricots verts, trim stems
3 Tbs. walnut oil/good olive oil
Coarsely ground black pepper/grains of paradise
350 degree oven, bake walnuts for 5 minutes, chop coarsely. Boil large pot water with salt, add verts & cook until tender but firm (4 mins). Drain, toss in bowl with warm walnuts & walnut oil. Season with pepper/salt.
From: Cooking for Mr. Latte

The Colossus of New York

Bleak and soft emotional underpinings of the granite city. Enjoyable, but not preferred. The unfinished sentences conveyed the hollowness of NYC, a bit mournful, lonely look into city souls.
A glimpse inside–
From “Downtown”:
Hipsters seek refuge in church, Our Lady of Perpetual Subculture. There is some discussion as to whether or not they are still cool but then they are calmed by the obscure location and the arrival of their kind. Keep the address to yourself, let the rabble find it for themselves. Wow, this crappy performance art is really making me feel not so terrible about my various emotional issues. He has to duck out early to get back to his bad art. Three cheers for your rich interior life, may it serve you well come rent day. Beer before liquor never sicker. This one’s on me. Somehow he always ends up buying every round. Hour by hour the customers change, grow humps horns scales. The little noises they make: her boyfriend’s out of town, his college roommate is in town, my friend’s band is playing downtown. He made too many plans with too many people and things will not turn out okay. She’s a little worried because at midnight the new legislation goes into effect and the draconian Save the Drama for Your Mama laws are really going to cramp her style. Hit the town. It hits back.

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