Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some People Need More Editing

Let's start today by discussing sins committed by writers.

I read another book by James Freeman. No, that's not right. I made an attempt to read Ishi's Journey but I gave it up. You may remember that Freeman is a teacher at Bucks County Community College, whom I met at my writer's group.

Ishi's Journey was certainly a good idea for a book: based on a true incident, a northwest Indian, living the primitive life, wanders into a 1911 slaughter house. Culture shock ensues. Trouble is, stone-age man doesn't meet modern Americans until 3/4s of the way through the book. Then, instead of dramatizing the actual meeting, Freeman apparently copies into the book what appears to be a news clipping of the event. I peeked ahead, saw a scene or two where a couple anthropologists sit around a campfire with Ishi and draw stories out of him. And I quit the book.

Freeman, that's the reason I gave up on you before. Tale-telling by your characters is no substitute for plot.

Next, we have Sin and the Second City by Karen Abbott, a non-fiction account of a couple famous madams in Chicago and the religious and legal crusaders that tried to shut them down. There are some cow patties, but the book reads like a novel. I thought Abbott's tone might be: ha-ha, look how the madams got away with it despite those prim and proper prudes. But she actually showed some respect for the ministers and prosecuters who fought a long fight against vice. Did they win? What? You think I'm going to tell you?

Next, may I recommend Long After Dark, a book of short stories by Todd Robert Petersen. It comes from Zarahemla Books, a publisher that offers LDS literature with a little edge to it. Petersen's characters aren't sweetly perfect. They have their share of troubles. But that, my friends, it what makes for engaging literature.

I had a little trouble getting the point of Petersen's novella, the last entry in Long After . . .. But I stuck with it and it came together for me.

Next, I read a heart warmer, Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene. This is the story of North Platte, Nebraska, a town isolated out in the Sand Hills region, whose citizens decided to operate a canteen for the World War II soldiers that passed through on the trains every day. They didn't have a budget or an expense account. They lived under the strains of food rationing. Yet out of the goodness of their hearts, they provided cakes, sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, milk, fried chicken, etc., etc., to millions of surprised soldiers.

Finally, I finished Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series. In Heartfire, the last volume, Alvin goes to trial for witchery up in New England, a place where don't take kindly to such things. A couple historical names you will recognize appear in the story, sparking things up a bit.

And now for your recipe, Sunday Football Sandwich Sensation is something I've always been hesitant to make. I went cross-eyed looking at the list of ingredients. The finished product was a mouth-stretcher. And all the exotic ingredients fell out as we tried to eat the thing.

But I get the idea of it now: you make a small salad and use it to garnish and flavor a rather basic sandwich. Here's the official list of ingredients (and my notes on good-enough substitutes)

1 (1 1/2 lb.) round unsliced Italian or French bread (I used squishy hoagie buns)
1 (6 oz.) jar sweet fried peppers w/ onions, drained (I found something with peppers but no onion in the olives-and-pickles aisle. The peppers sat in a garlicky oil which I drained off before I sliced them haphazardly)
1 (4 1/4 oz) can chopped ripe olives, drained
1/2 head lettuce, shredded, about 4 cups (hey, I love the bagged stuff)
1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
1 1/2 lbs. thinly sliced deli meats like mortadella, salami, and pepperoni (Um, those are yucky. But honey ham and smoked turkey were great)
1 lb. thinly sliced deli cheese like mozzarella and provolone (Or Swiss, sorry if it ruins the ethnic purity of the sandwich)
2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick.

Split the bread. Mix the pepper stuff, the olives, the lettuce. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Put some salad on one side of the bread. Layer on the meats, cheese and tomatoes. Add more salad. Top it off with the other half of the bread.

This is how John and I fed ourselves one night last week, while living in a Louisville hotel room with a kitchenette. It was the food of happiness. I wish I had another one of these sandwiches right now.

I'd tell you the calorie count, assuming of course that you care, but I think my calculations are based on using those yucky meats. So my numbers are wrong. I'm too lazy to re-do them at the moment. I'd really rather read my next book right now. It's about sororities. Oooohh, the cattiness!!

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