Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem is a typically glib Manhattan novel, rather like reading a neo-modernist Woody Allen movie with a dash of Spike Lee angst on top. The setting is oddly familiar, a contemporary time with details slightly skewed to suggest that we are in an alternate reality of what The City really is in our own day and time. On an objective level, this novel is technically good, the characters very interesting, and the narrative just quirky enough to keep it interesting. The dialogue and first person voice of Chase Insteadman are particularly powerful. There is a reason that Lethem has earned a solid seat among the literati. I have been meaning to read other novels by Lethem. He’s on my “long list” of to-be-read books that I will never finish because it is forever growing and this novel makes me want to bump those novels higher on my list, to explore his earlier writings so I can more fully appreciate his evolution as a writer. So why, given all of the above, am I only giving this novel a three star rating? Because I’ve read a novel like this before, an unpublished manuscript by a friend of mine who is brilliant and has written a similar story in poetic form that echoes thematically with Lethem but doesn’t have the need to hide behind unlikable and enigmatic characters. And because I’ve read a more minimalist and yet equally evocative version of this story nearly ten years ago, long before Lethem could have begun this very good novel, I can’t adore it with the same force as I would have otherwise. Not Lethem’s fault that I was graced with this other writer’s wonderful words but I truly wish my friend’s writing were out there for me to recommend over this novel because, although Chronic City is very good, my friend’s poetic narrative is better. Now if only he would get the darn thing published . . .

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn Casserole

This recipe is so good I had to share it. We found it in a low carb cookbook that has a lot of recipes that are, coincidentally, diabetes friendly. Autumn Casserole ¼ cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth or water 2 cups sliced mushrooms 2 cups chopped stemmed and washed fresh spinach 1 cup diced red bell pepper 1 clove garlic, minced 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash 1/3 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 1/8 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese 1. Preheat over to 350F. Spray 1-quart casserole with non-stick cooking spray. 2. Heat chicken broth in medium saucepan. Add mushrooms, spinach, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in squash. Add salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes, if desired. 3. Spoon into prepared casserole. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Makes 6 servings Serving Size ½ cup Calories 37 Carbohydrate 4 g Calories from Fat 29% Total Fat 1 g Saturated Fat <1 g Cholesterol 3 mg Sodium 164 mg Dietary Fiber 1 g Protein 3 g

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Commit-to-Sit Challenge Set Aside

As I approach my third anniversary, I am finally learning the rhythms of the vertigo. Autumn is a time of regression where I begin losing my balance more often, struggle with my morning yoga practice, etc. Last week I began feeling nauseous and was unable to do the evening meditation that is part of the Commit-to-Sit challenge. By the end of the week, I was unable to tolerate the afternoon meditative walk (or tai chi, which I also tried to do on alternating days). I am going to put the challenge aside for now. I will continue doing the morning yoga and meditation but, for now, trying to do more meditating in the evening is too challenging for me and I need to honor my body, listen to its needs, and not constantly push myself.