quick read, quick listen, quick meal

With this note I embark upon year two of the read.write.eat. newsletter! Thank you all–for reading, for commenting, for letting me know you’re out in the world. As I’ve often bemoaned, writing is a lonely business, and you’ve helped me out by meeting me at the virtual water cooler, letting me know what you’ve read, how your writing is going, and what delicious meal you’ve eaten. I’m so grateful for your company.


read

A quick note here as I’ve not read a new book since last I wrote. I have read two fantastic stories in the New Yorker.

First, “Motherless Child,” by Elizabeth Strout, which appears in the August 5 issue. Hallelujah! It is a story about Olive Kitteridge, my favorite curmudgeon. I loved the novel, Olive Kitteridge, because Olive is so complicated. She doesn’t suffer fools, and her insights about people around her are often spot on, and she has such blinders about her own behavior. I am of the belief that we all have a tiny bit of Olive in us, especially those of us who deny, deny, deny! You can read the story here, listen to Elizabeth Strout read it here, and read a brief interview with Strout here.

Next up, “Elliott Spencer,” by George Saunders, which appears in August 13 issue of the magazine. This story is a challenging read, playful with language, playful on the page, it reflects our current political situation, has characters you come to care deeply about, and is full of pain, regret, and forgiveness. Saunders reminds us what compassion and empathy mean. He reminds us that we all have tremendous capacity for love if we only allow ourselves to really look at the people in our society whom we choose not to see. You can read the story here. Listen to Saunders read it here. Read a brief interview with him here.



write

I’m really moving along on my book! One story to go and I’m so excited about the project. Writing a book takes so much time, love, faith and worry. And then, you release it into the hands of the world who may not get it, may not love it. Ouch!

I think we can all benefit from reexamining our relationship with success. What does success mean for you and your work? What is your condition of enoughness? Certainly we all want to hold our beautiful books. We want to connect with readers. We want our books to sell. And, don’t we also want the satisfaction of writing the truth, whether in fiction or memoir or poetry or personal essays, don’t we want to reveal the truth of human experience to the best of our abilities? Life is messy and we want to successfully portray all the mess with love for our characters, and without flinching. It is so damn hard!

As you consider the definition of success for you and your work, I encourage you to listen to this wonderful interview with Steve Almond (one of the Sugars from Dear Sugar) about what writing success means to him, and even bigger than that, “How do we esteem what we tried to do in life?” The conversation is so uplifting and powerful. Find it at Otherppl Podcast.



eat

Need something to do with the zucchini your neighbors have been giving you? Make this pasta and you’ll find yourself begging for all the zucchini. Just writing it here makes me want to go to the kitchen and cook some up.  It’s adapted from NYTimes cooking. So Delicious! So Easy! Serve it up with a tomato salad and you’ll be all set.

  •      1 pound fusilli or other short curvy pasta
  •      1 ½ pounds zucchini halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2- inch thick pieces
  •      Kosher salt and black pepper
  •      4 tablespoons olive oil
  •      2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  •      1/3 cup cream
  •      Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  •      ½ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  •      1 ½ cups roughly chopped herbs, such as mint, basil, Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  •      1/3 c chopped Marcona almonds
  •      Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
  •      Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  1. Prepare the zucchini: Season chunks with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the squash in one layer (you may need to do this in two batches) and cook undisturbed until it begins to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and set aside. Taste and season again, if necessary.
  2. Meanwhile, Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until it is just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the zucchini pan. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic becomes translucent, about 30 seconds. Add the squash back to the pan along with the lemon juice and half the lemon zest. Toss to combine.
  4. Put the pasta in a large bowl. Add zucchini and toss to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water, the cream, and the grated cheese. Toss until the cheese emulsifies and is silky. Add the fresh herbs and almonds. Toss again. Top with additional herbs and the remaining lemon zest. Serve in bowls, and pass grated cheese at the table. Season with flaky salt, if desired.