The Page Boy

By Lavender December 4, 2007

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American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

Suvir Saran with Raquel Pelzel
Photographs by Ben Fink
$35

The very cover looks edible….But don’t linger—manifest the real thing: smells, tastes, and textures, right in your home kitchen.

Author of Indian Home Cooking, Saran takes the title of American Masala from a word meaning both the spices that add zing to food and the zest you insert into your very life. Blending both American and Indian cooking, he has introduced dishes that will appeal to the homegrown palate, while tempting the cook/diner to go a little farther afield.

Take “Mary Ann’s French Lentil Soup With Cilantro and Orzo”: Saran introduced it in Indian Home Cooking, but now has streamlined and simplified it into a more user-friendly “hearty and comforting” dish.

Saran innovates without gratuitously cluttering his recipes with bells and whistles, lifting, to name but one instance, the humble ur-comfort dish “Macaroni and Cheese” into the Empyrean.

That’s not to say Masala is all hot-dish fare. The “Goat Cheese Pesto-stuffed Chicken Breast” or “Tamarind-glazed Turkey With Corn Bread-Jalapeño Stuffing” will please king and commoner alike.

Julie Taymor: Playing With Fire

Eileen Blumenthal, Antonio Monda, Julie Taymor
Abrams
$50

For anyone mesmerized by the costumes, sets, and magnificent fantasies in The Lion King, Juan Darien, The Tempest, and so many others of Julie Taymor’s stunning productions in theater, opera, and film, this lavish volume is a must-have.

This third edition includes a new essay on Taymor’s film career, as well as all-new sections on her Oscar-winning film Frida; her newest, Across the Universe; and the opera Grendel.

Blumenthal’s biographic essay traces Taymor’s work and life—an ongoing production as lavish as anything she has brought to life on stage or screen.

Film critic Antonio Mondo’s essay “From Stage to Screen,” illustrated with many production shots, discusses Taymor’s films: her first, Fool’s Fire; The Lion King (1997); Titus Andronicus, with Anthony Hopkins; Frida, which Mondo describes accurately as “magical realism fused with surrealism”; and the latest—as of this publication—Across the Universe, which utilizes Beatles songs, orchestrated by Elliot Goldenthal.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

David Michaelis
Harper
$34.95

Think “Happiness is a warm puppy,” and you think of Charles Monroe Schulz—known as “Sparky” (even to biographer Michaelis). However, as this lengthy (655-page) biography reveals, the man who gave happiness to millions never felt he’d attained that state himself.

Sparky knew from age 6 that his single goal was to be a strip cartoonist, and while he achieved that goal, security and love eluded him. His angst-ridden and melancholic 6-year-olds were revolutionary in the newspaper comic strip world, garnering fans as diverse as Jack Lemmon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Charlie Brown never kicks the football; Lucy never wins Schroeder; Snoopy’s doghouse is destroyed in a conflagration that consumes everything, including, he wails, “My Van Gogh!”

Asked what he’d be doing without his strip, Sparky retorted, “I would be dead.” On the morning of February 13, 2000, as his last cartoon appeared in the Sunday papers, he died peacefully in his sleep.

The Third Sex

Willy
Translation, Introduction, Notes by Lawrence R. Schehr
University of Illinois Press
$35

Well before—32 years—Simone de Beauvoir penned her classic The Second Sex, Willy, the French novelist best known as Colette’s husband, published The Third Sex.

As translator Schehr is quick to point out, “Willy,” the pseudonym of Henry Gauthier-Villars (1859-1931), most likely did not write the book himself. Throughout his mysterious career, he hired ghostwriters, whose work he would sign as his own.

Nevertheless, Willy wrote—or caused to be written—this candid and sometimes lurid handbook to gay life in France, Italy, and Germany in the early 1920s. It was first published in 1927.

To explain Willy’s allusions, puns, and references to other authors, Schehr has written copious notes, themselves a guide to further readings. Fortunately he has made available the first English translation of this Queer Fodor’s guide to a hidden, pervasive world of music halls, saunas, homosexual publishers, and diverse—and divergent—opinions on the nature of homosexuality itself.

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