Hi everyone, I’ve recently started writing for the University of Toronto’s Museum Studies Blog Musings (It’s a once a month gig where I post reviews about exhibitions in the GTA) Check it out, there are a lot of cool things being written about in the museum world.
I’ll admit, I used to think that owning your own restaurant would be the most amazing experience. Getting to design menus and create a dining experience seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. Then I read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, which immediately made me think twice. I love books that go behind the scenes and Bourdain did not disappoint. He provides a detailed account of the messy and chaotic environment of the kitchen and his own experiences with different restaurants. He also provides some interesting and useful information such as, when not to order seafood (Never on a Monday, as it’s normally left over from the weekend), and never to order your meat well done.
One of the ironies is, that in this book Bourdain looks down “celebrity chef” culture, but in recent years, has become a the same kind of celebrity chef that he so despises in his writing. I don’t really consider him a sell-out though. He’s a talented chef and a great writer, so gaining that celebrity status should not come as a huge shock.
But basically, don’t open a restaurant.
Who run the world? Girls! Although as Sarah Hall details, it might not always be the best thing. In this dystopian future Hill depicts a world where women’s lives (especially their reproductive rights) are tightly controlled by the government. Wanting to escape, the narrator (who calls herself “Sister”) digs up her great-grandfather’s army rifle and escapes to north to Carhullan. Carhullan is an “eco-feminist” commune where women, led by the enigmatic Jackie Nixon, feed, cloth, and care for one another. While the author paints an idealistic picture, not all is what is seems and the community of Carhullan is not exempt from corrupt leaders and governance problems.
While there are echoes of Margaret Atwood (most notably the Handmaid’s Tale) throughout this work, Hall’s novel is largely original. Most dystopian futures and speculative fiction books published recently take place somewhere in North America. Hall however, transports the reader to rural Great Britain, which contributes to the original idea of Carhullan as a “utopian paradise.” While Hall sometimes does get bogged down in detail and analysis, overall the plot moves well and the characters are compelling. A must-read for anyone who firmly believes that there would be less strife in the world if women were in charge.