Good Reading : October 2015
GOOD READING OCTOBER 2015 41 GENERAL FICTION WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG Kitchens of the Great Midwest J Ryan Stradal Don’t start reading this novel if you presume that it’s yet another cookbook.Yes, there is the odd recipe but it’s much more complex than just another collection of food-based anecdotes. The central character, Eva Thorvald, is totally involved with food, from the time her chef father maps out a feeding routine for her, just after birth. She loses and gains family members, but none of that disturbs a girl who, while only 11, grows fiendishly hot chillies under lights in her wardrobe – and eating them. For someone who must have ser iously seared her tastebuds in that way, Eva later reveals a wonderful palate and finds her true vocation in the restaurant kitchens of Iowa and Minnesota. Along the way the novel drifts into telling other people’s stor ies. And then Eva pops up again with a role in those narratives. Where the author excels is in his depiction of the lives of those lesser characters: the bitchy wannabe foodie goddess; a high school swain; an all-round loser who drinks hard, fights hard and loves hunting season; and a county champion bake-off cook. Foodies who know which orchard or far m supplied ingredients for their dishes are satirically depicted, as are those prepared to wait years to be selected to attend a pop-up dinner for which each guest pays $5000. A cookbook it is not, but it certainly has fun with food. ★★★ Quercus $29.99 Reviewed by Jennifer Somerville Kitchens of the Great Midwest J Ryan Stradal Dyet another cookbook.Yes, there is the odd recipe but it’s much more complex than just another collection of food-based anecdotes. Thorvald, is totally involved with food, from the time her chef father maps out a feeding routine for her, just after birth. About J Ryan Stradal J Ryan Stradal grew up in Minnesota. He does not own a gun or a motorbike, which he says makes him unique among the men in his extended family. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he indulges his passion for books, wine, sport, root beer and peas. Kitchens of the Great Midwest is his first novel. ‘You can’t shake off this novel; it gets under your skin, fills your lungs, breaks your heart.’ Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap Visit allenandunwin.com/ thenaturalwayofthings to read an extract. Ten young women wake up confused and alone, imprisoned in the middle of nowhere. What is their crime and who put them there? The girls all have something in common ... With echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies, this extraordinary and starkly imaginative novel will provoke, shock and enrage.