Friday, November 03, 2006

Book Review: Ruth Reichl's Trilogy

I've been waiting until I finished Ruth Reichl's third book Garlic and Sapphires to post a review of all three books. Just so you know, I'm a pretty voracious reader and a fan of her editorials in Gourmet magazine.

When Mom handed over the three books (the first two are Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples), I wasn't sure what to expect. But, I started at the beginning with Tender at the Bone, bringing it everywhere with me because I simply could not put it down. Ruth accompanied me to the periodontist (yes, I still have more procedures to go and lots more $$$$ to spend there) and kept me company while I waited at the DMV for my photo driver's license.

I admire her honesty, especially in the way she paints her relationships with her family and friends. But what really keeps me tied to her books is her food writing. In all three, she shares recipes, but Garlic and Sapphires features select reviews she wrote while working as the restaurant critic at The New York Times.

Her third book is probably my favorite, with her first, Tender at the Bone, coming in a close second. I enjoyed her flawless descriptions of the meals she ate as she dressed in disguise. She revealed so much of herself in all the books, especially the infidelities in Comfort Me with Apples, that made me feel squirmy and uncomfortable.

The most encouraging part of Garlic and Sapphires is the message that she learns from her missteps. By dressing as alternate characters in order to do her critic's duties at New York's top restaurants, she discovers the best and worst parts of herself, and who she really wants to be.

I heartily recommend reading all three books in order. Otherwise you miss the big story of Ruth's personal growth and food-centered career. I'm really glad she's decided to share this much of her life with readers like me. She inspires me to improve my writing about food and other things, as well as to find and be my best self.

Speaking of my other writing, quite a few folks have been quoting my story on the generation gap in collaboration published here.

Since reading Ruth's books, I've been focusing a bit more on the bigger picture of why people resist collaboration in general. My column at has been more pointed lately, and whether it draws praise or criticism, at least it's raising awareness and making readers think.

Please let me know what you think about that column by either commenting here or at FYI, my lastest article is here.

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