By Monique Truong
From Publishers Weekly A enthralling narrative voice, an insider's view of a fabled literary loved ones and the gradual revelation of heartbreaking secrets and techniques give a contribution to the visceral effect of this primary novel. From a couple of strains within the Alice B. Toklas prepare dinner publication, Truong reimagines the Vietnamese cook dinner who was once employed by way of the recognized citizens at 27 rue de Fleurus. Bonh, as he calls himself, is an exile from his place of origin, the place he was once denounced as a result of a gay dating and banished by way of his brutal father. After 3 years at sea, Bonh leads to Paris, the place he solutions Toklas's advert ("Two American women wish...") and enters the family of Gertrude Stein. the tale starts off in 1934 whilst the ladies he calls "my Mesdames" are approximately to travel the US, and Bnh fears he will be solid adrift once more. Flashbacks demonstrate his loneliness and guilt, his doomed amorous affairs (he enjoys a short tryst with Ho Chi Minh, whom he is aware basically as "the guy at the bridge") and his unhappiness at having deserted his mom and his place of origin. The tone all through is poignant, lightened through Bnh's subversive wit; for all his bitterness and resentment, he's an enthralling narrator, as adept at describing Stein's literary salon because the contents of Toklas's kitchen. If Truong occasionally stretches the diversity of Bonh's realizing and powers of remark, studying even the ideas of Stein herself, the narrative earrings with emotional authenticity. Truong's supple prose is permeated with sensual element, resembling A Debt to excitement in its evocation of the erotic probabilities of foodstuff. however it is her intuitive figuring out of the situation of exile-"the natural, sea salt disappointment of the outcast"-that infuses her novel with richness and sweetness. Copyright 2003 Reed enterprise details, Inc. From Booklist Drawing notion from a fleeting reference within the *Alice B. Toklas cook dinner ebook* (1954) to 2 "Indochinese" males who at one aspect cooked for Toklas and Gertrude Stein, Truong has concocted a tasty fictional memoir. confronted with the choice approximately no matter if to accompany Stein and Toklas to the United States, go back to Vietnam, or stay in France, Binh, the Vietnamese prepare dinner who has worked for the radical girls he has dubbed "The Steins," for approximately 5 years, displays again on his bothered existence and occasions. Interspersing his personal tale with that of his illustrious employers, Binh meanders backward and forward via time, recounting his younger misadventures in Vietnam, his time toiling as a galley hand aboard a crusing vessel, and his years spent cooking for the Steins and indulging within the joys and perils of the seamier aspect of Parisian nightlife. utilizing salt as a metaphor for "food, sweat, tears and the sea," and interweaving the narrative with feedback of components, recipes, and unique dishes, Truong offers a savory debut novel of unforeseen intensity and emotion. *Margaret Flanagan* *Copyright © American Library organization. All rights reserved*
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From Publishers Weekly A spell binding narrative voice, an insider's view of a fabled literary loved ones and the gradual revelation of heartbreaking secrets and techniques give a contribution to the visceral effect of this primary novel. From a couple of strains within the Alice B. Toklas cook dinner publication, Truong reimagines the Vietnamese cook dinner who was once employed by way of the recognized citizens at 27 rue de Fleurus.
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The modern world is without limits, she tells Miss Toklas, so the modern story must accommodate the possibilities—a road where she can get lost if she so chooses or go slow and touch each blade of grass. GertrudeStein should know. She is an excellent driver. She lapses, however, when she has to go in reverse. She would rather keep on driving until she can turn the automobile around, a 360-degree arc of obstinacy. That way, she is technically always going forward. Miss Toklas likes the wind in her face.
Lightning before a driving storm, I had thought. But I suppose that was the sailor's apprehension in me talking. It had been eleven years since I had made a true ocean crossing. For my Mesdames, it had been over thirty. The ocean for them was only a memory, a calming blue expanse between here and there. For me it was alive and belligerent, a reminder of how distance cannot be measured by the vastness of the open seas, that that was just the beginning. When my Mesdames first began preparing for the journey, they had wanted to bring Basket and Pépé along with them.
There was certainly no love lost between me and those dogs, the poodle Basket especially. My Mesdames bought him in Paris at a dog show in the spring of 1929. Later that same year, I too joined the rue de Fleurus household. I have always suspected that it was the closeness of our arrivals that made this animal behave so badly toward me. Jealousy is instinctual, after all. Every morning, my Mesdames insisted on washing Basket in a solution of sulfur water. A cleaner dog could not have existed anywhere else.
The Book of Salt by Monique Truong