Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Report: Peace Like a River

I've just finished Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (of Osakis, MN and MPR fame). It was an incredible book, one that I couldn't put down and didn't want to finish. I chuckled, gasped out loud and cried more than once. I could write a profound review, but I'll include some comments by David Abrams:

As long as we're tossing around Great Writer Names, let's add Harper Lee to that list as well. Peace Like a River bears more than just a passing resemblance to To Kill a Mockingbird. In both novels, parents are a deep and abiding mystery and childhood, which once seemed to stretch forever, is marked by self-awareness and a sense of closure. Few writers are able to discuss adolescence in such clear-eyed, yet rosy-with-nostalgia terms that will cause grown-up adults to nod so vigorously with recognition that their heads threaten to fall off their necks. Lee and now Enger have proved themselves worthy of the task. "I remember it as October days are always remembered," writes Engers, "cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers."

The real strength of Enger's book lies in the voice of our young asthmatic guide. Reuben Land is one of the most engaging narrators -- young or old -- to take control of a book's pages in a long time. He's funny, endearing and a fierce champion for his family, no matter how wrong their actions are. It's hard not to be swept away by Enger's prose.

The novel rises steadily to an unexpected and shattering climax which is sure to leave readers gasping for air in the last 15 pages. Unlike Reuben's condition, it does not wheeze. It sings. Oh my, how this book sings.

The book was about faith and life without being patronizing or shallow. The style was engaging and intimate. I kept thinking that I wish I could write like that. Ahhh....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brownies Extraordinaire!

Our family is contributing cookies for the 50th Wedding Anniversary reception for our parents, Arvin and Grace Olson. I'm doing chocolate. I chose "Chocolate Crinkles" because I remember Mom making these as a kid and loving them. Either I was supposed to make them the size of a nickel, or the recipe lied. 6 dozen my foot.

Well wouldn't you know, Symphony bars were on sale this week, and I stocked up. (Who can beat 10 for $10?) I had these chocolate bars and 2 brownie mixes and made 2 pans of "to die for" brownies. I'm not kidding, these are really that good. I know Mom wanted cookies, but after one bite of these, any number of transgressions will be forgiven!

Here's how you make them:
Killer Brownies
1 box brownie mix (9 x 13 size)
1/2 cup veg. oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
3 large or 4 medium Symphony bars

Make the brownies according to the directions. Place 1/2 of the batter in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Lay the unwrapped chocolate bars on top. Depending on the size of the bars, sometimes you need to break them into pieces to fill the pan. Pour the rest of the batter over the brownies. Bake at 350 for 28 - 33 minutes. Cool the brownies for 20 - 25 minutes and then cut them into 24 pieces. If you wait too long to cut them, the chocolate bars get too hard.

One of the cleverest hints I've ever gotten was from Darlene Davis. She said to cut fresh brownies with a plastic knife (or the handle of a plastic spoon or fork.) It's marvelous! The brownies don't stick to the knife and cut smoothly.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

New Summer Goals

OK, so I'm not going to get the whole house thoroughly cleaned and organized. That was my original plan for the summer. I had really wanted to give in to my inner nesting instinct and have my house in top shape.

But that's not happening. So I'm setting a new goal: to watch all of the Inspector Morse videos by the time school starts. I've made a table from IMDB and cross-checked it with the Library and I'm ready to go.

Wish me luck!