Gone Girl


I’m not generally in the practice of reviewing books but in this case I just could not hold myself back. There were so many things that rubbed me the wrong way about Gone Girl that it was almost painful for me to finish, but knowing it would be a twisty ending made it essential to formulate a complete opinion of the novel.

First the disclaimers:

1. Spoilers ahead!

2. I listened to the audiobook which I knew from the beginning was a huge mistake. In a story told in the first person with massive amounts of dialogue, the voice and acting abilities of the storyteller can really affect the tone of the tale. From the outset these narrators irritated me. Granted, they’re irritating characters but their inflections and characterizations of the secondary characters made a story I already disliked much worse.

Novel as film

It’s clear from the writing style as well as the numerous film and television references that this book is based in the world of cinema. Considering the state of the current film industry, where studios are looking for known properties instead of original screenplays, it makes sense that Gillian Flynn (a former writer for Entertainment Weekly) would write an easily adaptable book. Yet the writing relies too heavily on the language of cinema.

When describing situations and their emotions, the characters often compare their present states to being in a movie. This notion is repeated ad nauseum. Characters are described as playing their parts in the crime drama version of the story. But what movie? Certainly not a Korean crime drama like The Yellow Sea. Or a television show like The Killing (season 3 in particular). Flynn references only pop culture and only the most generic of it.

Flynn is constantly relying on the viewer’s knowledge of popular culture to fill in the blanks of her story. It’s like CSI! It’s like Law and Order! This feels like a cheap and easy way to construct her fictional universe. There is no new territory covered. Often when Flynn riffs on these movie/television tropes she makes sure to tell the reader that she is doing that. Yet this becomes less of an affectation of the characters, since it’s applied to all of them, but instead a shortcoming of Flynn’s writing.


Spring cookbook from the Blissful Chef

Recently, Christy, the Blissful Chef, was kind enough to give me a copy of her new e-cookbook Cooking with Seasons: Spring Edition. After glancing through the recipes, I was highly excited about the delicious looking, but thoroughly healthy recipes. I couldn’t decide on just one to try so I made two: the Barley Stew with Japanese Vegetables and the Hiziki Lentil Pate.

but first,  a little story…

When I was six years old (yes we’re talking pre-school age here), I had my cholesterol tested and came in over 300, which is really just insane. My dad did some research and decided to put us both on a macrobiotic diet to remedy the situation (which he blamed on my love of McDonald’s chicken nuggets, gross!). In retrospect, I think it’s pretty cool considering that now people turn immediately to medications instead of diet change to fix their health problems. At the time though, I was not thrilled with the brown rice and steamed vegetables I would get for lunch every other day. I still don’t particularly like brown rice to be honest. In any case, making these recipes, the barley stew in particular, totally brought me back to the flavors of my childhood, in a much more appreciative and mature way. I can see now the subtleties of combining flavors and textures to come up with something that is not only truly delicious, but also full of nutrition. Oh yeah, and I should add, eating macrobiotic as a kid completely normalized my cholesterol in no time at all.

but back to the recipes…

This lentil hiziki pate is really great in that it has a complex combination of flavors while still being very subtle. The texture is lovely; grainy but soft. We ate a good deal of it up on some flax crackers. I loved the undertones of the hiziki that came through without being too strong at all. The recipe makes a whole ton which would be perfect for serving at a party or just as a guilt-free snack.

The ingredients are simple and the whole thing was extremely easy to prepare. It came together quickly and we ate it still warm. It was equally as good the next day, chilled.

I chose to use red lentils because that is what I had at home, although I’m sure it would be equally as good with regular lentils. My only mistake was not looking at the price of the hiziki when I purchased it. I highly recommend you look for a reasonably priced hiziki (aka, not at whole foods).

This stew may have worked it’s way into my heart as a new favorite. While I’m a fan of hearty filling stews, this one manages to be both of those while not giving you that weighed down feeling. Again, the flavors are understated but it allows you to taste each element of the stew on it’s own.

The kabocha squash is slightly sweet with a perfectly soft texture. Since I had a bit left over that didn’t go in to the stew, I’m looking forward to trying other ways of cooking this dense squash.

The barley brought everything together in the stew, giving it a wonderfully mushy texture. I really mean mushy in the best of ways. It was lighter and tastier than many other grains I’ve had in stews. Oh I loved it.

The burdock was another new taste for me. I wasn’t as in love with this but it added a contrasting texture and flavor as well as some added nutrients.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the daikon as well.

Oh and the barley miso, so wonderful. Such a strong flavor and yet part of me wants to eat it with a spoon.

All together these elements make a fantastic stew. Not only does it taste great but it actually makes you feel good. It is amazing how eating whole, unprocessed foods can make you feel. Perhaps it is time to do a little spring cleaning and try out some of these recipes. I can’t wait to make more of them. I’m particularly excited about the Basil UnCeasar Salad with Pumpernickel Croutons. Sounds awesome, right?

You can get these recipes and more in the e-cookbook from the Blissful Chef for a discounted price here!