Monday, December 19, 2011

Bonus Short Stories: Damned, Best Food Writing 2011

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 4:59 PM

We reviewed a few more books this month than we could get into print, but wanted to make sure you heard about them, you know, in case you're still on the hunt for holiday gifts.

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Damned
Chuck Palahniuk
Doubleday, $24.95/hardcover
Fight Club’s author has aggressively released almost a book a year for the last decade; reviews of Pygmy and Tell-All are in our archives here and here, as well as an interview on Snuff from May 2008. I mention this because, having stomached nearly all his raunch-laden fiction, I find Damned his most entertaining read in years. Our protagonist is a 13-year-old dead girl in hell (which, as it turns out, generates most telemarketing calls and Internet porn models). She advises that “when the proverbial bell tolls for thee, seriously consider wearing a basic low-heel Bass Weejun penny loafer in a dark color that won’t show dirt.” You’ll find out why, on her way to confront Satan (to be continued in a sequel): She raises a demon army, reunites with her killer, and illuminates an absurd, hilarious place you best pray you don’t land in. — Matthew Schniper

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Best Food Writing 2011
Holly Hughes
Lifelong Books, $16/paperback
This collection of food writing from across the country is again curated by Holly Hughes, who rarely fails to find a year’s don’t-miss stories — maybe 45, or so. In Best Food Writing 2011, don't miss altweekly writer Jonathan Kauffman’s take on how a state ban on shark fins (signed into law in October) might impact the culture of California’s Asian population; or Barry Estabrook’s look at the nation’s dairy farms, which have shrunk from 650,000 in number in 1970 to only around 54,000 today, with the largest 1 percent producing a quarter of the milk consumed in 2006; or even Lisa Abend’s report on the hopefuls who “stage” (take a culinary internship) at Ferran Adrià’s Spanish restaurant, El Bulli. It was considered the best restaurant in the world when it closed last summer, but it lives on here. — Bryce Crawford

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