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If ever there was a time to use the word “sensual,” this is it. This is a book one must relax into and give oneself over to, absorbing the sights, sounds, scents, textures and above all the tastes:

When he spoke of bitter melons steamed with the brine-plumped tongues of one hundred ducks, I saw a landscape of greens and grays. I tasted parsimony and extravagance comingled on a single plate (page 66).

I have simmered strings of dried figs in bergamot tea. I have braised mutton with bouquets of herbs tied in ribbons of lemon rinds until their middle-aged sinews remember spring. As for the artichokes, I have discarded all the glass jars of graying hearts afloat in their vinegared baths that I found hiding inside his kitchen cabinets. Sometimes…it is better to crave (page 237).

The writing in Monique Truong’s first novel is almost relentless in its beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been sitting open on the coffee table for about three weeks and I’ve only gotten to page fifty one. I get that it’s funny and Pip is a likable little guy, but I’d rather do just about anything other than read this book. Do I give up or power through?