Emily St. John Mandel and her book The Lola Quartet has another great review to put under her belt.
The Globe and Mail
THE DAILY REVIEW, MON., APRIL 30
Where has all the music gone?
AMI SANDS BRODOFF
Ever play that game, where will I be in 10 years? The drama in Emily St. John Mandel’s noir thriller hinges on what becomes of four teens who form a jazz quartet in high school, when their lives collide a decade later.
Gavin (trumpet) is a sensitive fabulist who wears fedoras, certain he was born in the wrong era. Jack (piano/saxophone) has a touch of synesthesia and sees light when he plays, music being “the brightest thing in the room.” Daniel (bass), the skinny kid with an afro, wears T-shirts for bands no one has ever heard of. Sasha (drums) is feisty and bookish.
The suspense in The Lola Quartet revolves around Gavin, as his life splinters into shards and he tries to track down his high-school girlfriend, Anna, whom he believes was pregnant when she vanished during the quartet’s last gig. Mandel sets up a rhythm between 1999 and deepest, darkest 2009, during the recent economic crash.
Gavin lands his first job at The New York Star. Daydreaming of changing the world, he invents sources and quotes for his stories, “because real people are so goddamn disappointing.”
Fired and disgraced in a Jayson Blair-like scandal, Gavin returns home to South Florida to work for his sister, a real-estate broker of foreclosed homes. After glimpsing a photo of a girl he assumes is his lost daughter, he becomes obsessed with finding Anna and their child, contacting their old crowd for help.
Mandel can be a spare, graceful writer. She brings music alive. Gavin and his sister, Eilo, are finely wrought, layered characters. The South Florida landscape is evoked in all of its hot-house horror, as suburban sprawl encroaches on natural swampland and nervous residents encounter unsuspecting reptiles. Small, glittering lizards grow into seven-foot-long, 200-pound monsters “with eerily intelligent eyes and extravagantly pebbled skin, perfectly capable of eating a small dog.” (Not to mention a small child.)
The narrative has a hurtling pace, with swift shifts in time, place and perspective. On page one, we meet 17-year-old Anna, transient, hiding out in Virginia. She is drinking her morning coffee in a park, as her daughter Chloe sleeps in the stroller. Mandel peppers this quotidian scene with a little static shock: Duct-taped to the underside of the stroller is more than $100,000 in cash. A few pages and a decade later, Gavin glimpses a photograph of a little girl who resembles him and has Anna’s last name. She’s 10. With this whomping coincidence – within the first 10 pages – we hear the clanking machinery of plot. Mandel strains too hard, too fast.
This adrenaline-fuelled tale is hard to put down, though details are not subtle or well thought out. If Anna’s raison d’être is to protect her baby, is taping stolen money under the stroller a good idea? Mind you, she’s ripped off a homicidal drug dealer. Granted, Anna is not a rocket scientist, but need she be that dim?
Anna is a problem. Central to the story, her character is not deeply imagined. After we meet her briefly on page one, she does not reappear until nearly halfway through the novel. A runaway from a troubled home with a fat file at Family Services, she is a good bad girl, unformed, a type.
The novel dramatizes the painful gap between a teenager’s idealized future and a young adult’s reality. Jack, the one they all thought would make it, is good, just not good enough. He’s sunk into despair and Vicodin addiction, living in a tent. Daniel is barely recognizable as a stoop-shouldered cop, bald and overweight, with two failed marriages behind him. Sasha, who studied English literature, now works the graveyard shift in a roadside diner. Rode hard and put away wet, she spends her free time at Gamblers Anonymous.
Though The Lola Quartet is uneven, it has unsuspected depth. How do you help a friend who’s drowning without going under? How do you reconcile the young dream of self with the later limits of life? These are timely and timeless themes that burrow under the skin.
“With amazing and kitschy food styling and photography and energetic writing, this is one cookbook I’ll be consulting over and over again.” Today’s Parent
BITE ME TOO
Another stomach-satisfying, visually gratifying,
Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat
Following the success of their first cookbook, the bestselling BITE ME, sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat are back with another stomach-satisfying, visually gratifying, fresh-mouthed cookbook BITE ME TOO.
Packed with 176 foolproof and user-friendly recipes, inspiring photography, pop culture crack-ups and budget-friendly bashes, this follow-up to the bestselling BITE ME is a celebration of sisterhood and motherhood; a marriage of cooking and art; and a multi-sensory and fulfilling feast.
BITE ME TOO answers the question ‘What’s for Dinner Tonight’ without sending busy cooks out to the specialty store. This is food the whole family will love that is easy to cook and delicious. Lisa and Julie offer a tongue-in-cheek approach to mom’s home cooking and sister rivalry– whether it’s creating the ultimate burger or baking perfect lemon meringue cupcakes.
NEW features include:
RSVP me, a “how-to” chapter on throwing exciting, easy and original parties. Julie and Lisa believe in making entertaining accessible and have turned the fantasy of putting together a fresh and fun dinner party into a reality.
12 QR Codes accompany recipes and drive readers toward added video content. Watch Julie and Lisa throw 6 parties in 7 hours, get a behind the scenes look at the cover shoot, check out the world`s best corn shucker in action AND MORE.
BITE ME TOO is the first QR cookbook for the masses!
ABOUT JULIE ALBERT AND LISA GNAT
BITE ME TOO is the result of the collaboration between sisters JULIE ALBERT and LISA GNAT. Between them they have six kids. Sharing a deep love of food, family, and fun, Julie and Lisa have created a cookbook that marries food and culture, and also makes eating, feeding, and entertaining a piece of cake. www.bitemecookbook.com
Here are a few menu ideas to help you start planning meals for those special occasions or for pulling a fast one for a quick dinner for the family on the run.
‘Mom’s The Word’ MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH!
- Mini Zucchini and Provolone Frittatas pg 214
- Orange, Jicama and Spinach Salad pg 62
- Lemonade Layer Cake (back cover picture) pg 241
- Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce pg 210
- Cinnamon Buns pg 208
‘Thrill Your Grill’ SUMMER PARTY!
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Pita Chips, pg 14
- Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad, pg 61
- Fiery Chipotle Grilled Chicken, pg 151
- S’mores Bread Pudding, pg 251
‘Pull a Fast One’ QUICK DINNER EXTRAVAGANZAS!
- Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Pizza, pg 18: Dough and toppings prepared ahead and refrigerated, bake for 10 minutes, serve with a green salad
- Mini Meatball Subs, pg 33: Double the recipe and serve the next night as spaghetti and meatballs-1 meal, 2 dinners
- Vietnamese Vegetable & Tofu Pho, pg 51: Healthy vegetarian meal in a bowl
- Hoisin Chicken Tortilla Wraps, pg 157: Healthy and quick– all wrapped together
BITE ME TOO MCARTHUR & CO.
PRAISE FOR BITE ME
“Entertaining . . . fun-loving ladle-wielding ones will enjoy this title’s light-heartedness.” Publishers Weekly
“[Julie] Albert and her sister Lisa Gnat take the term ‘culinary art’ literally in their witty and whimsical cookbook.” ELLE Canada
“…the sisters’ version of sugar cookies has ended my annual search for the perfect holiday specimen.” The Washington Post
“Every time you turn the page you’re not sure quite what to expect…unlike so many comedy-infused cookbooks, the recipes here are meant to be made, not just talked about…Gnat offers up plenty of culinary fodder.” LA Weekly
“…makes it the perfect present for the girl or guy who likes their kitchen with a side of caustic wit.” Lifestyle Magazine
“Bite Me…offers great new recipes and a laid-back style to liven up your kitchen adventures…you and your mister are bound to find some new favorites in this not-so-ordinary cookbook.” Wedding Bells
“…a cook and coffee-table book in one, Martha Stewart meets British Vogue…” Home & Décor
“…two sassy sisters, a love of good food and a wicked sense of humor.” Canadian Family
“This unusual book combines straightforward recipes with quirky photos and quotable ‘bites.’” Canadian House and Home
“…the Toronto-based siblings have cooked up a collection of 175 recipes that will make anyone look like a star in the kitchen.” Where Magazine
“The sister’s credit their mother with teaching them the art of entertaining…a similar blend of stratospheric elegance and whimsy.” Toronto Life
SECRETS OF THE DUNES
A Hannah and Emily Morgan Mystery 2
Evidence of the lost city of Atlantis has been found in tiny Prince Edward Island, of all places! Amateur detectives Hannah and her younger sister Emily are intent upon unravelling the historical puzzle that has stumped experts for millennia: Where exactly is Atlantis hidden? Along with friends Jack and Lucy, the four investigators help a team of professional archaeologists dig for clues to unearth the mystery behind Atlantis’ sudden disappearance 9000 years ago.
The sleuths soon discover a dazzling artifact buried deep in the island’s famous red soil, and expert analysis reveals the object originated in Atlantis! Just as their dreams of fame begin to blossom, they are crushed as heartless thieves threaten to destroy the evidence of the lost city. It’s up to Hannah and her gang to solve the mystery with their usual flair.
JULIANNA KOZMA’s debut novel, Mosquitoes of Summer, was the 2009 winner of Book Idol. “Beautiful Insanity” has just been accepted into the very first issue of Warpaint, a prestigious short story anthology. Julianna worked as a financial journalist before becoming a teacher. She divides her time between the Laurentians in Quebec and Prince Edward Island with her husband, their two children, and their pet parrots, Mr. Bean and Pickles.