Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kitchens of the Great Midwest -- A Book to Devour? Savor?


It has been a while since I blogged about the Circle of Friends book club, but I’m glad to report we’re still going strong. For a change of pace, we met yesterday for a luncheon rather than our regular dinner. We enjoyed delightful egg casseroles supplied by hostess, Carol, and an array of colorful and healthy salads. To offset all that healthfulness, desserts included lemon cookies, crepes with lingonberry jam, and Pat Prager’s award-winning peanut butter bars.

No, this isn't Pat. This is Cheryl who
whipped up a batch of Pat's peanut butter bars
to share with the Friends. Cheryl says she has
to admit they're tasty (even if she did make them
herself).
This pan attests that the Friends agree with
Cheryl.



 

Thank you Shelly for nominating
this book for our club!
Now if you’re thinking Pat Prager is a member of our club and wondering exactly what awards her peanut butter bars have won, you obviously haven’t read the Friends’ selection for this month—Kitchens of the GreatMidwest by J. Ryan Stradal. And you should read it.
It’s hard to describe this book, but if you think Prairie Home Companion meets Fargo with a few recipes thrown in, you might be getting close to the idea.
Or maybe this will help.
Take one obsessive-compulsive female jock; one love-struck teenage boy; one spoiled, selfish, ego-centric woman; one traumatized, twenty-something alcoholic; one lonely, middle-aged woman whose identity is wrapped up in her cooking. Sprinkle generously with a spicy blend of Lutheran church ladies, pretentious foodies, middle-school bullies, and all manner of misfits, mayhem, and music references. Gently fold in one big and big-hearted female chef with a near perfect palate. Mix together in an Olive-Kitteridge-type plot, and serve with a generous dollop of satire and spot-on language.
Follow this recipe carefully, and—voila!—you have a delicious and fitting read for a group of ladies who love their food almost—almost—as much as their books.

Elizabeth brought some yummy succotash, also a
dish of significance in this book. Sadly (or not),
 there was no lutefisk to be had. Cheryl tried to obtain
some via the internet, but it seems no one is willing
 to ship this Scandinavian delicacy in the summer months.
 Probably a good idea.
 
 A couple of reviews to prove that others enjoyed this book as much as the Friends did:

"An impossible-to-put-down, one-of-a-kind novel. I have never read a book quite like this. This stunning debut announces J. Ryan Stradal as a first-rate voice in American fiction."
                                                   --Rob Roberge, author of The Cost of Living

"A Great American Novel in the fullest sense of the term. Everything you want a book to be."
                   --Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
 

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun ride! Love debut novels!

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    Replies
    1. It is a fun ride, Shel--and in places a wild one. I hope Stradal's subsequent novels (and I'm sure there'll be some)measure up to this one, but it will be a hard act to follow.

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  2. Okay, I was behind on my blog reading due to travel, so I didn't quite grasp your FB comment regarding the Spam selections at the Wisconsin State Fair. But now I am up to speed, hee hee! Sounds like a great read.

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