A timely family story, fiction from a familiar name, local literature and maybe the most useful cookbook ever! Here's what I'm talking about on Fox 6's Good Day Alabama on Tuesday, April 4 and Saturday, April 7.
A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival (NewSouth Books) by Julie Hedgepeth Williams
This book is as timely as it is fascinating. April 15 marks the 100th anniversary of this tragic event that continues to capture our attention and our imaginations. Williams grew up hearing family stories about how her great uncle Albert Caldwell; his wife, Sylvia, and their young son escaped the Titanic. They were among the very small number of families that came out of that disaster alive and together. But there’s more to this story: The Caldwells had been Presbyterian missionaries in Siam (now Thailand), but they left when Sylvia got sick. They ended up in England, via the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. But fellow missionaries believed the couple made up Sylvia’s illness and that they planned to renege on their contract with the church that had sponsored them. So, it turns out that being involved in the most famous shipwreck in history was only one of this family’s problems! Williams relied on Albert’s firsthand account of the disaster as well as family stories, newspaper articles, journals and church documents to tell her family’s extraordinary story.
A Wedding in Haiti (Algonquin, publication date April 24) by Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez’s books are internationally acclaimed. Many, like How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of Butterflies, are taught in high school and college curriculums. In A Wedding in Haiti, we follow Alvarez on her own journey into a new country and culture. It’s a narrative that spans both pre- and post-earthquake Haiti and includes Alvarez’s parents; her husband; and a young Haitian boy named Piti, whom Alvarez first met in 2001. The author, over the years, has come to view Piti as a son; she even promised to be at his wedding one day. As Alvarez explains, “… devastation happens around the world and at home. But those tragedies are too huge to absorb. We understand them best in the small, human-sized portion a story serves up. This is a journey of the heart to a Haiti that often gets missed. In a far-off hut, an hour’s hike from where a dirt road ends, Piti is getting married. I invite you to enter this story and see what happens when we keep a promise.”
PMS 11 Poem Memoir Story (University of Alabama at Birmingham) edited by Kerry Madden
This newest edition of PMS, a journal of women’s poetry, memoir and short fiction, opens with an interview by Lauren Slaughter with internationally esteemed poet Mary Jo Bang, and it’s followed immediately with Bang’s beautiful Canto XXVI. From there, the pages cover a variety of subjects (the isolation of a nursing home, the terrifying world of drug addiction, the angry teenage daughter of a racist, a revelation in a Hallmark store). “ … a theme of displacement can be seen in the fractured settings of so many of poems, memoirs, and stories,” writes editor Kerry Madden. “Displacement is in the air these days with families being uprooted and broken, often to the running soundtrack of our age of information overload.” Sit down with this spring issue; slow down with this spring issue. Understand something new.
Birmingham Poetry Review (University of Alabama at Birmingham) edited by Adam Vines
Award-winning poet David Bottoms, the poet laureate of Georgia, opens this Spring 2012 edition with My Old Man Loves Fried Okra, and his simple, straightforward, relevant poem paints a picture that is both lovely and heartbreaking and, quite possibly, very familiar. Other poems that stay with the reader include Michelle Penaloza’s Reverie: Nightfishing
“The silver fish sidle inshore, opaque lines, nets
of the mind – words before they leave the tongue.
The torches their lures, the old men fall silent and watch
the clamor of fish climb the branches of their swaying nets.”
And Travis Wayne Denton’s Local Men
“They’re the ones you read about in the papers,
Never good news. For Example: Local Man, Found Face Down
In His Teriyaki at Bill’s Lucky Buddha, Foul Play Suspected.
Look around, gaggles of local men,
Just waiting to be picked off – thrown in the back
Of a rusted-out Buick (said car last seen speeding
Away from the Circle K).”
How to Cook Everything: The Basics (Wiley) by Mark Bittman
“Cooking, at its heart,” says Mark Bittman, “is simple and straightforward.” It’s also satisfying, economical, time well spent, and it results in truly nutritious food. It also leads to family meals. This book, with its 1,000 informative and encouraging photos, starts by showing you how to set up your pantry. Then there’s a visual guide to basic prep like rinsing and chopping and cooking techniques from boiling water (yes, really) to braising. The recipes here progress from easiest to most challenging, so you can build skills with each dish. Recipes include Quick Pickle Spears, Garlicky White Bean Soup, Paella with Chicken and Sausage and Chili from Scratch. How to Cook Everything: The Basics is perfect for the novice cook (think wedding presents and graduation gifts here), but accomplished cooks will learn a thing or two, also.