Books & Brews: Delancey / Legend Brewery’s Oktoberfest

delancey-book

Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it. 

I’m mostly a fiction reader, as is fiercely evident in a scroll through my previous Books & Brews posts. However, if I had to pick a close second– it would be memoirs. Specifically memoirs that involve food. I loved Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michelle Maisto’s  The Gastronomy of Marriage. I bought and cooked liver after Julie Powell made it sound so romantic in Julie & Julia. And… I can stop, clearly using “liver’ and “romantic” in the same sentence adequately demonstrates my love. Anyway, I was doing a little updating on Goodreads recently and noticed this delicious memoir* that I had added some time ago and figured I was due for a little break from the fiction. This month I read Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. (*I think I’m going to officially call the sub-genre of memoir about food: “delicious memoir.”)

The book chronicles the birth of a business. It starts with the author’s husband making the proclamation that he is going to open a restaurant that serves the New York style pizza he loves, because he is unable to find an acceptable substitute in Seattle. She assumes it’s just another of his fleeting interests (like violin making or ship-building), but his interest doesn’t wane this time. Suddenly there’s a lease and a space to remodel and staff to hire and pizzas to make, and sides and desserts to plan and prep. Wizenberg’s memoir tells the story of both her whole-hearted involvement in the project and her ultimate decision to step out of the kitchen at Delancey.

Here’s what I loved about the book: Continue reading

Books & Brews: The Strangeness of Men / Isley Brewing Company’s Choosy Mother

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Two of my favorite things in the world are craft beer and books. On the last Thursday of every month I pair a story I love with a pint to sip while reading it, under the theory that there is a perfect beer to compliment every book.

I’m kicking off 2016 with a Book & Brews first — instead of featuring a novel, I’m thrilled to share a collection of short stories, flash fiction, and poems! Kim Drew Wright’s The Strangeness of Men is thirty-eight unique stories bound together under one lovely cover (really, look at that cover up there– so gorgeous). Obviously, it would be impossible to give you a synopsis of each and every one of those stories, but what I can tell you is that each one explores some element of humanity– from the mundane (think laundry, cooking, and cleaning bathrooms), to the quirky (a naked sleepwalker), to the unimaginable (life in a quarantined town where people die every day). And each piece leaves you thinking just a little differently about the world around you and the stories everyone carries with them.

Here are just a few things I loved about this book: Continue reading

Making a Space

Photo Skitch Document

 

Deciding where the characters in a story live  is key.  The world you create, has to be real to the reader, whether it exists or not.  In fantasy this requires detailed descriptions to help the reader see a world with pink trees and streets paved in black licorice as if it were their own. (Fantasy writers please pardon my terrible example. This is precisely why I don’t write in that genre).  In realistic fiction it involves giving enough detail that readers can see your characters in their space without being drawn out of the story by idiosyncrasies (i.e., “wait a second, K street doesn’t intersect DuPont”).

So when I started Neverending Beginnings I decided to set it in Richmond and I moved my main character, Kate, into the apartment I lived in when I first moved to the city.  It was a fabulous one bedroom in the Renaissance Conference Center .  The apartment was on the second floor, the same floor as a large ballroom that can be rented out.  I still laugh about the December evenings I would run into the fabulously dressed couples headed to their corporate holiday parties while I (wearing sweatpants) was on the way upstairs to do my laundry.  The other awesome thing about this apartment was that the building had previously been owned by the Masons.  The walk-in safe that was part of their offices became my (huge!) closet; the painted, cast iron safe door a prominent feature in my bedroom.

Safe/ Closet Door

Safe/ Closet Door

The safe/closet interior. (aka the closet that made all other closets in my life seem inadequate)

The safe/closet interior. (aka the closet that made all other closets in my life seem inadequate)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an excerpt from my novel featuring the building and the safe turned closet:

“Well, this is me.”  I said stopping in front of my building.

“No way. I just helped my friend’s girlfriend move in here this past weekend.”

“Is her name Carolyn, by any chance?”

“Yeah. You know her?”

“We were college roommates, freshman year.  In some weird twist of housing fate, she’s my next door neighbor now.”

“No way.”  I just nodded, and he continued. “This is an amazing old building.  I think it was a Masonic temple at some point, right?”

I nodded again.  “Did you get to see the ballroom on the second floor?”

“It was locked.”

“You have to catch it when there’s a wedding reception or party that they’re setting up for. I’ve gotten to peek in a few times.  It has this amazing high ceiling and huge windows.”

“I saw the windows from the back of the building the other day.  They are pretty impressive.”

“The closet in my bedroom is actually the old safe from when the Masons were here.  It has the original iron door and everything.”

“You mean, right there on the wall in your bedroom.”

I nodded.

“Wow.  I would love to see that sometime,” he said, still staring at the building. Then he snapped back into reality, and quickly, apologetically, stumbled. “ I mean I’d love to see the how they repurposed the old safe, uh . . . not specifically your bedroom.  I wasn’t trying to be an ass.”

“I knew what you meant,” I said.

“So, this was fun . . .” he said sort of softly.

“Definitely.”  I shuffled my feet and started glanced at the ground.

“Right, so I guess I’ll see you Friday, um . . . at the rehearsal dinner.”

“Right.  See you then.”

“Okay,” he said as he turned and walked away.

As I watched him walk away I thought strong my urge to kiss him had been, pretty much from the adorably unnecessary apology on.  Much like my disappointment when he explained his move to Seattle, I had no idea where the idea even came from.  But the one thing I did know was that there was no point to any of it if he was leaving.  Why bother, if I already knew the ending?