As a way to get back in the habit of doing these more regularly (sorry I haven’t posted in a while!*) I am doing another Favorite Things roundup. As you recall, my last Favorite Things was about The Friend and Cocofloss. The Friend won a National Book Award and Cocofloss is still in business, so I guess we know I’m onto something here.
Unfortunately for you, the books I’ve loved in recent weeks aren’t out yet, but since I imagine some 25% of you work in the publishing industry, I encourage you to beg, borrow, steal a galley. Failing that, just preorder (and here I’m linking to the deathstar because sadly that’s where preorders matter most, though it would be amazing if you also called up your local bookstore and asked them to order it for you, you absolute hero:)
Doxology by Nell Zink (out 8/27)
This book seemed so explicitly engineered to appeal to my interests that I had a crazy moment of imagining that Nell had written it for me, which isn’t that far-fetched considering that Nell HAS written books for friends as a joke before! That’s because she’s a bananas genius who can crank out a fully realized novel in a month. Previously, though, this virtuosity has been tempered by her tendency to be maybe slightly too caught up in her own fun to notice the reader there lagging a few steps behind her. With this book, she works out that kink. It starts out by being about the unlikely career of an outsider-artist turned rock star and the couple who abet his early success and then hire him to babysit the baby they gamely decide to have in their early 20s, and ends up by being about the inner workings of the 2016 election wait no it’s not about that, please don’t stop reading. It’s not really about any of that? It’s about religious faith and art and how various generations are processing the increasingly un-ignorable reality that the rest of our lives are going to be unlike all our ancestors’, in terrifying ways, and how to keep going and even having fun in spite of that knowledge.
Women’s Work by Megan Stack (out 4/2)
Keith was asked to blurb this book and I suggested that he write “This book made my wife want to murder me. It should be suppressed.” I think he probably ended up writing something else. Ha ha. I blurbed it too and said “The discomfiting truths Stack reveals about caretaking and labor transcend cultural and national boundaries; this book is relevant to everyone, no matter how or where they live. Stack uses her reporting acumen to illuminate domestic workers' struggles, but also fearlessly reveals the most vulnerable details of her own life in order to make her point. The masterfulness with which she tells these intertwined stories makes this book not just a work of brilliant journalism but a work of art.” And you know what? I stand by that. I would only add: Megan Stack doesn’t give a single fuck, and that is always beautiful to witness in a work of published writing!
There’s a recipe I make a lot that I refer to in my mind as “the Doree chicken” because Doree Shafrir introduced me to it. I like it because it elevates some humble and always-available ingredients — chicken thighs, honey, lemon, carrots, onions — by adding warm spices and taking some care with technique that produces layers of flavor. I think it’s important to rub the chicken with the spice mixture before searing it off, and to add the garlic after caramelizing the onions (instead of combining the garlic and onions into one step as I typically do when being lazy). Recently I was pressed for time and discovered a way to make it even better! Do the first three steps on the stove and then transfer the whole shebang to the Instant Pot and pressure-cook it for 15 minutes. The result is silky carrots and falling off the bone chicken. Serve with Trader Joes rice, those frozen bags that you microwave, which deserve a Nobel. But don’t skip the parsley, especially if you’re only serving this one thing: you need a bright green counterpoint.
I got a sample of Urban Decay All Nighter concealer when I bought my mom’s Solstice present at Sephora and I’m wearing it today and I think it makes it look like I’ve slept several uninterrupted hours, which is not the case. Raffi woke up and said “pet me.” This would be cute at not-2am. The baby also woke up which is harder to be mad about because he’s a baby. Better times must be ahead, my friends. But until then I find this concealer very effective.