Another week, another lot of amazing events. That’s just how things go here at Housing Works.
On Monday, we’ll be hosting The Last Banquet; a lively celebration of food and literature. Novelist Jonathan Grimwood will be joined by Charlotte Druckman, Matt Grossand Gideon Lewis-Kraus. While our very own executive chef, Emily Casey will be preparing dishes inspired by The Last Banquet!
On Thursday, the storytellers of The Moth StorySLAM will be waxing lyrical on the subject of ‘Home.' 10 stories, 3 teams of judges, 1 winner. $8 at the door. This event always sells out. Limited seating; please arrive early.
And on Saturday, we’ll be hosting Then and Now, a book club reveling in history and pop culture. This week’s book is Sam Kean’s delightfully titled,The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements.
i just reset my “no really you MUST STOP READING NOW” alarm twice to get in a few more chapters of Europa’s first-ever hardcover novel, THE LAST BANQUET (October 2013). it reminds me of Perfume, with its focus on obsessions, its epic span, and its historical details, but warmer, so much warmer. you will want to read this book.
Tonight! An evening of storytelling, lively literary conversation, and bizarre culinary tastes. Join novelist Jonathan Grimwood and special guests Charlotte Druckman, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, and Matt Gross at a celebration of food, obsession, and literature. Dishes prepared especially for the occasion by The Works executive chef Emily Casey and inspired by The Last Banquet will be served (You have been warned.)
About The Last Banquet: Set against the backdrop of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the delectable decadence of Versailles, The Last Banquet is the gripping story of one man’s search for the ultimate taste. A sumptuous and appealing novel about food and flavor, about the Age of Reason, about revolution, hunger, and obsession.
In The Last Banquet, you and your friends take on the roles of guests at an opulent royal feast. Perfectly suited for parties and large gaming events, the game accommodates groups of six to twenty-five players. Using your character’s actions and words, you must work with other players to achieve your team’s goal, which may be to deliver a secret message, rescue the kidnapped princess, or seat your team’s assassin by the king’s side. Full story HERE.
Fantasy Flight has releasedThe Last Banquet, the company’s new game for large groups ranging from 6-26 players.
In The Last Banquet, players take on the roles of guests at a royal feast where they must work with other players to achieve their team’s goal, which may be to deliver a secret message, rescue the kidnapped princess, or seat your an assassin by the king’s side.
Features Jean-Marie d'Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to wit and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.
This novel was sent to me by The Book Depository as a prize since I had won the Quote of the Week. In this novel, the protagonist Jean-Marie d'Aumout tells his story from his early childhood to his late years, including his education, his friendships, his love life and, most importantly, the discovery of different tastes. The plot is fast-paced since not many philosophical endeavours are done. As for story content, I especially liked the beginning when Jean-Marie is still a boy and is discovering the privileged world his nobility has made possible. As Jean-Marie grows older, he becomes a womaniser in the truest and purest sense. While the confessions of love were not annoying, the graphical details of eventful nights were numerous to the point of sickness to a reader like me who isn’t into that type of reading. Jean-Marie’s ‘tastes’ are of a wide variety. Mistresses even when he’s old! I shook my head and put the book down at some disgusting acts. I’m sad that this effected my overall opinion of this book, but it did drag after all. A content-wise aspect which I liked is that the novel has almost the same amount of happy and bitter experiences. I also enjoyed the different settings and the protagonist’s growth throughout the book. Grimwood’s a good author: his writing style was enjoyable despite that hitch I mentioned before. It’s written in first person narrative and it is excellently executed. I didn’t detect any particularly interesting themes, or at least they weren’t strong enough for me to comment about them. I loved the characters though! Especially the friendships. My favourite character is not even a person.. it is Tigris, Jean-Marie’s pet tiger. She is such an exotic touch to the book. Although Tigris is blind she’s an amiable companion, at least to those who aren’t afraid of her! Jean-Marie is attached to her in a more loyal manner than he was to his wives. As far Jean-Marie’s personality, I definitely enjoyed his inquisitive nature especially when it comes to taste. The ending is satisfying in a queer way; the last banquet turned out to be different than the lavish dinner I expected when I started reading this book!
I enjoyed Jean-Marie’s delicious and sometimes disgusting journey. It is a fast read but I personally would have loved it more if it had less adult content incorporated with taste. I admit that at times it was sick to the point of closing the book and putting it away…
If you enjoy a good book about the French nobility try this out. However, beware of the negative aspects (which you may not mind) that I have mentioned in my review.
One of my favorite novels, The Last Banquet, came to mind a few weeks ago when I received an Invitation to a dinner with an interesting name: Snout to Tail. Holy smoke! I shouted mentally. Could there possibly be a less appetizing title for an event? I posed this question to the organizers with what I thought was a big dollop of humor. They didn’t think my comment was funny at all and replied via email that the type of dinner they were promoting was based on a cookbook called The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson. I mentioned the dinner to Jennifer, Bookstore1’s manager. She had grown up on a farm and thought the dinner–title and all–sounded delicious.
So, I guess deliciousness or yukkiness is based solely on the taste buds of the diner. For my part I find fish and seafood absolutely disgusting–the mouth feel, flavor, odor–all add to my revulsion. I can just hear some of you say…it’s got to be psychological. What’ll she do next? Blame it on her mother?
Well, yes, I do blame my mother. She was on a healthy eating kick long before it became fashionable. (I guess it worked. She lived in good health until 92.) On a couple of occasions she insisted we all eat liver–rare. Believe me, for a 6-year-old that was hard to take, but, fortunately, she even found that difficult to choke down. Her on-going insistence was that fish was good for us. So she’d fix it two or three times each week. I hated it. Nevertheless, I was forced to sit at the table until I ate it all. It didn’t help that my mother was an atrocious cook. To this day, I can’t force myself to swallow fish in any form.
When I asked others at the bookstore about foods they dislike Barry said since childhood he has not been able to stand sweet potatoes. He no longer does Thanksgiving, but he swears that has nothing to do with the presence of an umber-colored casserole. (Hmmmmm.) Liz reports that her mother-in-law had a fear of wobbly Jell-o. She’d run out of the room when it was carried in from the kitchen, only returning when the Jell-o had been eaten by others.
But these are nothing…ordinary reactions to ordinary foods. If you’d like to read a terrific novel about foods far more exotic I’d definitely suggest The Last Banquet.
The Last Banquet
by Jonathan Grimwood
The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
At this time about a year ago, Hurricane Sandy almost destroyed Bank Square Books in Mystic Connecticut. Thanks to the good will and hard work of the community it serves, the dedication of its staff, and its owners’ passion for books, much of the store’s stock was saved and they were back in business several months later, though it took months more for things to get back to normal. Two nights ago, a year after it was so terribly damaged, the store celebrated the opening (yes, opening!) of its beautiful new space–an extended ground floor annex, and an upstairs space for events, workshops, whatever! I was fortunate enough to be there, with author Jonathan Grimwood, whose novel The Last Banquet occupied pride of place in the new rooms. Bank Square is a great store and its story over the past year is a terrific tale of resilience and bookseller gumption. My congrats and heartfelt thanks to Annie and Patience and the entire staff.
Okay, before i head off for work i am going to hit you guys with another Stones review. This is one of their more notable releases and features classic hits such as Sympathy for the Devil and Street Fighting Man. My last review for their album Bridges to Babylon was more of a filler piece that tackled one of the band’s more experimentally weird releases. It had good stuff but heavily reminded me of the flow on their album Black and Blue. First its their typical rock and then they hit you with jazz, and soul music. The electronic stuff was weird but still interesting even though it didnt give the album a strong flow. This album should be a better choice for you guys and will hopefully expose you to another good album. Enjoy!!
Sympathy for the Devil: Now this album starts off with an easy recognizable Rolling Stones hit. You likely wont notice that you’ve heard it but once you first get into them, this song is going to be one of the first couple that catch your attention. It begins with some tribal beats and shouts that are very calming for an early morning listen. Mick enters with a softly reserved approach that is soothing as well as catchy. The lyrics are pretty well written and Mick gives them a strong flow that continues to promote its relaxing nature. The guitars and keys give it a nice atmosphere and the bass provides a balance roughness for it as well. The drums continue with their tribal influenced sound and give it a very unconventional sound that you aren’t very to hear in today’s releases. The backing “whoo whoo’s” are a nice backing touch that further fills in gaps and keeps the song from getting repetitive. The guitars even take a few moments to throw in some old school blues/rock riffs that further capture your focus. This song is a lengthy piece but a very entertaining one at the same time. You will find it very hard to walk away from it and will likely view this as one of your personal favorites. It is a very good live piece that only adds to their endless repertoire of live hits. If you are interested in checking out classic rock then this song embodies the very essence of old school blues rock. It is reserved but energetic and simplistic. All the characteristics that made this band rise to stardom. Very good choice for an opener. 10/10
No Expectations: Damn that was a lengthy first track review. Not a bad start to today’s review indeed. The guitars start off with that rustic country sound that the band has dabbled in every now and then. It certainly screams blue collard with its rough guitar sound and crooning vocals. The vocals have a decent flow and the lyrics have an interesting nature. The bass gives Mick’s voice a nice background even though it still could of used more percussion. The keys add in some nice melody that reminds me of a live cafe performance. This gives it a cool rawness that emphasizes some blues/jazz elements in their songwriting. It is one of their more specialized tracks that will take the right mood to get into. It also brings the album in a more somber direction which acts as a complete 180 of the sound that the previous song embodied. It’s definitely an area that i don’t get into much but it still seems to fit in with this album well enough. 7.5/10
Dear Doctor: This song further brings the listener down that rustic country route. Mick continues to use a rough crooning style that seems to fit in neatly enough with the guitars and harmonica. The lyrics continue to be simple but sufficient and give the song enough substance. The flow gives it enough catchiness for you to feel tempted to sing along too. It definitely has a western campfire feel that would be quite entertaining. I believe a sitar is featured on this one and it gives the song a little more energy as well as tone which will help the listener to stay connected. The harmonica is another very crucial addition that adds an even more stripped down feeling to it. I kind of wonder what this type of song would sound like live for them. Especially how it would flow when added in with their blues rock, and more experimental pieces. 8/10
Parachute Woman: This song has a very familiar guitar riff that is bluesy and contains a nice roughness. Mick’s voice has a very good pace and his tone is perfect for the rustic themes featured on this piece. It is not country focused like the last two songs and features a much more lively instrumentation. The guitars are low but rough and give off a good rhythm for the vocals to flow. The drums match them in their rough rhythm than the harmonicas are equally entertaining. They are almost sinister in tone and really do well to add in that final piece that will make this such a captivating song. The only downside is its short running length because it picks up so well throughout the song that its ending seems to just sneak up on you. This piece has a very good rhythm that easily could of made it to the 4 minute mark. 8/10
Jigsaw Woman: This song is the second lengthiest piece on the album and takes on a minimalist approach. The bass is the loudest instrument featured for a good portion of the intro while the drums fill in gaps. The drums have a good energy and are perhaps some of the most energetic beats on the album. The guitars actually pick up quite nicely and give off that cheerily rough sound that was featured on the intro track. I has a nice blues element and makes strong use of rhythm to keep it as lively as possible. The vocals remain consistent and serve to give the song a focused direction. The lyrics dont exactly draw much attention however, they still give the song some nice substance when you single it out. The only thing that i can really criticize is that the ending does sound a bit drawn out and mainly keeps that memorable guitar riff flowing for an extra minute or so. It still has nice energy and will sound pretty sick live. It is a good balance of energy and relaxing which further adds to its cohesiveness on this album. This is one song that i would recommend giving a try when you are browsing through their earlier material. 8.5/10
Street Fighting Man: This is probably the most immediately recognized song on the album. If you have ever seen V for Vendetta which i highly recommend by the way; this song is featured in the closing credits. It actually fits in quite well with the movie’s climatic ending and was a smart promotional choice for them. It starts with a nice acoustic guitar and is joined by an energetic drum beat. It has a nice rattle to it and is complemented by a melodic bass/electric guitar. It creates a nice echo that is a relaxing as it is energetic. Mick’s vocals are very well done and he keeps the song flowing with a nice swagger. The lyrics are well done and are one of the band’s most politically infused songs ever recorded. This song is placed perfectly in the middle range in terms of tempo and will keep you awake with its energy. At the same time though it will keep you relaxed with its soothing hum. This is another of their hit tracks that dominate a live performance and make it hard for fans to determine what song exactly was a highlight. New listeners should give this song special attention when listening because it will do a good job of attracting you to their other material. 9/10
Prodigal Son: This is a cover song that begins slow with a catchy guitar riff and a brass like drum beat. Mick returns the album towards their country theme on this track and keeps it relatively cohesive as a whole. The vocals keep in a low roughness that seems to progress well enough even though the lyrics arent exactly good at attracting your focus. The instrumentals are mainly what keep this song going and if that was softer you would be very tempted to skip this one. It does have a suitable time frame so it is good enough to give additional substance to the album and leaves quick enough to refrain from getting too boring. 7/10
Stray Cat Blues: The guitars keep the western blues going but then shift into a much more familiar rock sound. It is low in tempo but catchy and easily has that notable 60′s sound. The vocals are a bit low in the mix but the controversial lyrics give it some nice substance and will do well to make the listener give it more attention. The drums keep a good beat going and really add in a nice level of roughness. The guitars are energetic and toss about some lively riffs that appeal to its raw character. The pianos come in to give the song a very energetic intro that would sound epic live. This one stays true to the band’s simple roots and will likely be a fitting choice for many a live performance. This is definitely one of the best pieces on the album. 8.5/10
Factory Girl: This short number begins with a very soothing guitar riff and incorporates some very unique drum instruments. The guitars give off an indian sound that is further complemented by Charlie Watts’s usage of the tabla. There is an additional harmonica featured that gives it a cool Celtic feel. This gives the song an international sound that combines numerous flavors in order to produce a catchy sound that sounds fitting. The vocals are nicely done and the simple lyrics fit in smoothly in order to give the song a catchy flow. For such a short piece it has a balanced level of substance that seems to be placed at just the right point in the album. I would also recommend giving this one a try since it has a more diverse sound to it. 8.5/10
Salt of the Earth: This song has a very soothing slide guitar that is very nice. Keith Richards starts off the vocals with some simple verses that make religious references and apply them to the working class. Mick takes the lead and keeps the song flowing with a nice progression. It is very reserved in tone but the keys do a good job of keeping it feeling full. The drums have a strong energy that livens it up as it goes and allows for Keith’s backing vocals to have maximum effect. The guitars are catchy as well and lead into some female backing vocals that will be further experimented on in later releases. This gives it more complexity and makes it a much more climatic closer than it might have been without it. This closer actually progresses quite well and places itself as another of the better tracks on the album. I would actually like to see this one live since it contains a raw sound that is just superb. Be sure to check this one out when you listen to the album. 9/10
Overall album rating: 8.4/10
Okay, this album has just edged its way into being my highest rated Stones album. It is a very appealing release that keeps things simple but still tosses in a few moments of complexity in order to make it a fluid album. This will likely be one of my favorites from them and is arguable a highlight of their 60′s days. I would say it certainly but i have a love for their Aftermath album so its going to be very hard to beat that one when i do it. I will recommend this as a crucial Stones record and definitely feel good about scratching this one off of my list. Now i only have 15 more albums to go from them. I swear these guys are going to keep me busy for the next year or so. Well, hope you all enjoyed this review, i gotta go to work now so dueces!!
Since I’m in the book business I’m privileged to read lots of books. Special treats are the Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) that are shipped to the store almost daily. Because there are so many to be read—and mainly enjoyed—I rarely have the chance to read a book more than once. Unless it’s poetry. I go back again and again to read (at least parts) of the work of my favorite poets.
Recently I was asked to lead a discussion of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch for a Women of Influence event held at the Ringling Museum. I had read The Goldfinch when it first came out in the fall of 2013 and enjoyed it immensely. (In fact, it was one of my two favorite books of that year, the other being The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood. Go figure.) But I decided to read it a second time so as to be better prepared to lead a discussion.
The Goldfinch is the sort of book that a reader sails through, despite its length (771 pages) because of the fluidity of its language and because of its engaging story. I had thought I had retained the vast majority of that book’s contents. Certainly I had recalled the major plot elements. But, perhaps because of my “sailing through,” I had not remembered many of the delicious nuances. Reading it the second time revealed these to me. The vibrant descriptions, for example, of Pippa, the woman the protagonist, Theo, truly loves. The details of Theo’s escape from a terrorist bombing in a New York art museum. Rich stuff there that I had apparently glossed over. Oh my, this experience has me asking, “What else should I re-read for the sake of hidden treasures?”
Choosing the Accomplish Banquet Hall Can Make Spread eagle to Your Celebrations
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‘My earliest memory is sitting with my back to a dung heap in the summer sun crunching happily on a stag beetle… .“ That’s Jean-Marie Charles d'Aumont, recalling a meal he ate as a 5-year-old in the barn on the property of his family’s tumbledown château. He’s eating the beetle not out of hunger but because he is a precocious connoisseur. Moments later, two noblemen ride up, hang the peasants who killed his parents, and offer the boy a sumptuous picnic, including Roquefort, in which he finds "a sourness so perfect the world stopped.”
D'Aumont will live through much of the 1700s, up to the brink of the French Revolution, and “The Last Banquet” is his account of his life. He goes on to reclaim his parents’ lost place in the aristocracy—marrying, taking mistresses, getting imprisoned in Corsica—all the while never losing his fascination with food, with flavor. He is a true omnivore, eating foie gras and trout but also peacock tongue and a deceased lion from his private menagerie (which “tasted stringy as old saddle”). He sets down many of his recipes: One is for dog, which “tastes like sour mutton”; another is for three-snake bouillabaisse. D'Aumont is also a philosopher of taste, and a budding scientist, musing that different flavors could be used to change people’s “humour.” “A woman could be brought to bed,” he proposes, “a man made to fight, quarrels forced or mended simply by selecting the right foods.”
There’s an element of the fantastical in this darkly engaging, quasi-picaresque novel, but it may also be read as a kind of social history of 18th-century France, told in a style both sensuous and lean, both colorful and matter-of-fact. Part Gil Blas, part Brillat-Savarin, with maybe a touch of Huysmans’s eccentric 19th-century voluptuary Des Esseintes from “A rebours,” D'Aumont is a cool character, who seems to observe his emotions rather than experiencing them, right up to the point that—well, let’s just say that some days you eat the lion, but some days the tiger eats you.