Sunday, August 26, 2012

Une Boulette de Vache en Français est Encore Une Galette de Vache.

I don't know about you and your smart phone, but I've gotten awfully app-happy with mine. This week, my new on-phone toy was Google Translate.

I was forced into it, you might say, while reading Tim Gautreaux's The Missing. His main character is Louisiana Cajun, apt to break in to his French at any moment. I finally got tired of missing out on these little story bits and hunted around for the translator.

Over there at Google they have made mighty big strides at undoing Babel's babble. And thanks to a few oft-repeated lines in Gautreaux's book, I can now say a couple French phrases without any of their help at all.

Unfortunately, these phrases are not fit for polite company.

Anyway, Missing is a book with a lot of side trips. You'll get some battlefields right after World War I. You'll get some Mississippi River boat and the wild, boat-bashing dance parties thereon. You'll get some darkly degenerate backwoods folks. You'll get a little girl stolen from her parents. We wind up to the big moment when the missing-girl storyline resolves itself, and then the book goes on for another seventy pages or so, which is as deflating as wolfing down your cupcake in the middle of dinner, then turning back to the green beans.

Maybe Gautreaux isn't the master of plotting, but if you don't mind the side trips, many with delightful dialogue, you'll have yourself a middling good time.

Not to mention equipping yourself with some fine French insults. Cow patties indeed!

Next up on the Finished Book Pile, we have The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow. At first, it's vague, with wispy hints of the event that ignites the story. If the reader can battle through all this vagueness, not to mention the many, many characters Durrow throws in before the reader knows what to do with them--if you can hold on, the story eventually tightens up, and you will get your bearings. I loved the peek into the tangled life of a bi-racial girl. As for the final third, some of those vague threads from the beginning tied up together and made me catch my breath just a little. Just a little.

Lotta cow patties in this one, too. But I thought the bi-racial stuff was quite illuminating.

As for your recipe, how about a little Vegetable Chicken Medley?

For such an near-instant dish, it turns out to be not terribly instant at all. You need to plan ahead and have cooked chicken on hand (we ate grilled chicken a couple days before, throwing a couple extra pieces on the fire). And you can't hurry brown rice. So you might as well set it in its pot, park yourself near the kitchen and pick up a good book. Tell anybody who hassles you that you are tending to something important and can't get away right now.

Say it nicely. No French insults, OK?

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