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About Brad Thomas Parsons

Once called "the Cameron Crowe of the food world," Brad Thomas Parsons balances his pursuits equally between all-things literary and culinary. He has interviewed Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Anthony Bourdain, Giada De Laurentiis, and Marco Pierre White, along with Jon Stewart, Amy Sedaris, Don Rickles, Sarah Vowell, and Chuck Barris, among others. He is a regular guest on Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen where he offers commentary on trends in cookbooks and food lit.

Posts by Brad

Omni Daily News

A Boy and His Tiger: Reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson broke his years-long media silence to respond to an e-mail interview (believed to be his first since 1989) with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Portrait of the Artist As a Reclusive Man: It was announced that Robert Vickrey's painting of J.D. Salinger, from the cover of a 1961 Time magazine story on Franny & Zooeyis now on display at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Moving and Shaking
: Dr. David Dosa's Making Rounds with Oscar, about the extraordinary house cat at a Rhode Island nursing home, claws its way to the No. 4 spot on our Movers and Shakers.

--BTP

It's Time to Submit Your Novel

Amazon.com, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce that submissions are now open for the third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. For the first time, the competition will award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction.The 2010 competition will also now be open to novels that have previously been self-published. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.

Manuscript submissions are now being accepted through February 7, 2010, at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time), or when 5,000 entries have been received in each category, whichever is earlier.

Visit the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award page for official contest rules for more information on how to enter.

--BTP

Omni Daily News

DIY Lit: Steve Almond chronicles his first foray into the world of self-publishing with his new flip-book, This Won't Take But a Minute, Honey. [via LA Times' Jacket Copy]

City Pages: New York magazine offers an entertaining profile of The Unnamed's "boyishly gangly" Joshua Ferris.

Heavy Metal Memoir: GQ's The Verge chats with John Michael Osbourne, better known as Ozzy, about his new book, the appropriately titled I Am Ozzy.

Movers & Shakers
: The pre-order title Fancy Nancy: A Flutter of Butterflies, A Reusable Sticker Book sticks to the No. 1 spot on our Movers & Shakers this morning.

--BTP

"Twilight: The Graphic Novel"--Coming March 16

Twihards across America woke up to some exciting Stephenie Meyer news this morning when Entertainment Weeky revealed that Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 will be coming out on March 16. Illustrated by Young Kim and including a brief introduction from Meyer, the adaptation will be split into two parts to keep as much of the source material intact. It's already cracked our Top 50 in just a matter of hours of being available for pre-order.

EW teased their interview with Meyer, which will appear in this Friday's magazine. Here's a sample question:

How does the feeling of reading the graphic novel compare to that of reading the original? Does it bring something new to the experience for you?

For me, it takes me back to the days when I was writing Twilight. It’s been a while since I was really able to read Twilight; there is so much baggage attached to that book for me now. It seems like all I can see are the mistakes in the writing. Reading Young’s version brought me back to the feeling I had when I was writing and it was just me and the characters again. I love that. I thank her for it.

--BTP

Omni Yearly News: 2006

In the News: Politics and current events remained at the forefront of the books world with several titles leading the way: The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright's definitive account of Al Qaida's path to 9/11; Fiasco, Thomas E. Ricks's influentially damning history of the first three years of the war in Iraq; and The Audacity of Hope, a political manifesto from a certain young senator from Illinois, whose 1995 memoir would go on to be one of the bestselling political books of the decade.

Rattling the Food Chain: Michael Pollan presented his own "eater's manifesto" with The Omnivore's Dilemma, where he traced four meals back to their mostly industrial sources, influencing a nation of eaters and sparking countless hours of debate about how we source the food we eat.

A Literary Discovery: The 60-year-old novel Suite Française, uncovered among the possessions of Irene Nemirovsky, a mostly forgotten writer who was killed in Auschwitz, went on to win the hearts of readers around the world (and was our No. 1 Editors' Pick for 2006).

Culinary Hooligan: In Heat, one of my personal favorites from 2006, former Granta and New Yorker editor Bill Buford went behind the line to learn how to properly make pasta, butcher a pig, and take a royal hazing from Mario Batali.

Great Debuts of 2006:The Places in Between, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, The Thirteenth Tale

Top Five 2006 Amazon Editors' Picks: Suite Française, The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Thirteenth Tale, Sharp Objects, The Emperor's Children.

Top Five 2006 Amazon Bestsellers: The Audacity of Hope, Cesar's Way, State of Denial: Bush at War, Book III, The Innocent Man, For One More Day.

In Memoriam: Among the authors who passed away in 2006: William Styron, Muriel Spark, Mickey Spillane, Octavia Butler, Bebe Moore Campbell.

--BTP

Omni Crush of the Decade: Cookbooks and Food Lit

With today's look back at the Books of the Decade I naturally gravitated to the subject I'm most passionate about: food. Last night I scanned the shelves at home and then did some research on Amazon this morning to make sure I didn't miss any favorites. Of all of the books listed below there is one that I turn to regularly--at least weekly--and that's Matt Lee and Ted Lee's The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. I became friends with Matt and Ted after their book came out in 2006 but I promise this selection doesn't stem from any personal bias. And I'm not the only one who just loves this book--it won top honors at both the James Beard and IACP awards.

I was cooking from the early galley edition prior to publication and in the years since it remains my most reached-for cookbook in my collection. I've made grits every which way, along with fried chicken, pork butts, pickled peaches, pies (sour orange, sorghum pecan, buttermilk-sweet potato), biscuits, plenty of cocktails, corn cob wine, crab dip, hoppin' John, collard greens, butter bean pâté, pimento cheese, and many more spectacular dishes. The book also turned me on to so many new ingredients, like sorghum, Carolina gold rice, spicy Blenheim ginger ale (which I now order by the case), country ham, scuppernong grapes, and, of course, boiled peanuts (per the bumper sticker, I "brake for" them at any occasion).

When compiling these lists, I came back to the books I cook from the most in addition to a few that I simply enjoy reading, cover to cover, like a novel, for their narrative approach, to a couple that I'm too intimidated, still, to even think about cooking from, but remain a resource of inspired ideas.

My Favorite Cookbooks (and a Couple of Cocktail Collections) of the Decade: 2000-2009 (alphabetical by author)

My Favorite Food Lit of the Decade: 2000-2009 (alphabetical by author)

--BTP

The Story Prize: 2009 Finalists

Today, The Story Prize announced the finalists for their annual award, given to an outstanding book of short fiction. The winner, who will receive $20,000, will be announced on March 3 at the New School in New York City. This year's finalists--all debuts--are:

--BTP

Omni Yearly News: 2001

Remembering 9/11: A single morning in September overshadowed all other events of 2001.Many books about that day would be published--memoirs, political studies, photographic tributes, even a graphic novel--each trying to record the history of that day. In the days following 9/11, two 1999 books, Twin Towers: The Life of New York City's World Trade Center and Divided We Stand: A Biography of New York City's World Trade Center, were among the titles people were seeking out (along with a renewed interest in Nostradamus' prophecies), and three years later The 9/11 Commission Report would be published and become a national bestseller.

Oprah v. Franzen: Ding! Ding! In this corner, Oprah Winfrey, media mogul whose official Book Club selections mean instant bestsellerdom for authors. In the opposite corner, the very literary, perpetually unshaven, bespectacled Jonathan Franzen, who famously snubs Ms. Winfrey's pronouncement. Winfrey withdraws her invitation, but The Corrections survives, and achieves critical and popular success. (Note: this won't be Winfrey's last Book Club pick that makes the news cycle.)

History Lessons: David McCullough rehabilitated an oft-underrated foundering father in John Adams (our No. 2 bestselling title of 2001, and later made into an HBO mini-series), and the glorious HBO adaptation of Stephen E. Ambrose's Band of Brothers sent his chronicle of back of Easy Company and the D-Day invasion back to the bestseller list.

Great Debuts of 2001: Fast Food Nation, Seabiscuit, Peace Like a River.

Top Five 2001 Amazon Editors' Picks: Peace Like a River, The Corrections, Nickel and Dimed, Ghost Soldiers, The Botany of Desire.

Top Five 2001 Amazon Bestsellers: The Prayer of Jabez, John Adams, Harry Potter Schoolbooks, Jack: Straight from the Gut, Skipping Christmas.

In Memoriam: Among the authors who passed away in 2001: W.G. Sebald, Eudora Welty, Ken Kesey, Douglas Adams, Robert Ludlum, and Pauline Kael.

--BTP

Amazon Exclusive Podcast: David Sedaris Talks with Joshua Ferris

It's back. With those words Tim and Jane Farnsworth reenter a nightmare they know so intimately it needs no other description. "It" may not be found among an insurance company's diagnostic codes, but the Farnsworths, a couple made wealthy by Tim's single-mindedly successful legal practice, know it too well: Tim's compulsion, at any random moment of the day or night, to set out walking for hours at a time until he collapses in exhaustion.

And so begins my colleague Tom Nissley's review for The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris's brilliant second novel, following his equally brilliant, award-winning breakout debut, Then We Came to the End. The book is our spotlight pick for the Best Books of January and Tom and I, who both read--and loved--the book over the summer, nearly had to endure a best-of-three bout of arm-wrestling over who would get to pen the actual review. Tom won. (Note to self: Never challenge Tom to arm wrestling. He will win.)

With feats of strength behind us, I'm even more excited to learn that David Sedaris loved The Unnamed just as much as we did. So much so, that he conducted his very first interview (this time as the one asking the questions) with Joshua Ferris. Read on or listen to our exclusive podacst below to hear the two talk about the charm of ugly characters, mocha frappuccinos, literary truisms, and much more.

--BTP


David Sedaris: I'm David Sedaris and I'm talking to Josh Ferris about his new novel, The Unnamed.

Joshua Ferris: Hi David.

Sedaris: Hi Josh. To start, I absolutely loved your book. And I read it two times and it was so completely different than your last book and so completely different than the short story that ran in the New Yorker a few weeks after I read it the first time. I so admire somebody that can switch back and forth like that.

Ferris: Well thank you, I appreciate that.

Sedaris: And I think you're so amazing at describing people. Would you read a little bit? Would you read on page 22 this description of Becka? I've got it marked right here if that makes it easier.

Ferris: OK. "Becka had eight or ten thick dreadlocked strands. They moved about her head the way miter curtains danced lazily over the car at an automatic car wash. Heavy and grayish. Their weight exposed the pale fault lines of her scalp. They cushioned her head as she lay back on the headboard. 'Do you think he fakes it, mom?' she asked. 'Fakes it?'"

Sedaris: I love that the daughter in your book is ugly. I mean, it's so much easier to love a pretty child. And I kind of like that she's--ugly's not the right word, but just maybe "unpretty." When you first meet her she's just sort of going through an unpleasant phase. She changes so much over the course of the novel and she becomes more understanding, and I like how with she and her dad Buffy brings them together. Just the image of him being tied down and spending time with his daughter. The book was very serious but there were images from the book that when I think of them I have to laugh. Like herding ostriches with a bullwhip.Which is mentioned in the book twice. It just sticks in my head. Tim's mother dying of blunt trauma to the head from a mirror in a restaurant. It's just a little detail--we're just learning how his parents died--but it's comic. But in the context of the book it's not comic.

Ferris: When you step out, when you step away from the book and recognize what it is I described there's an abusrdist angle that can be thought of in retrospect. But as you read it it seems as if this is as truthful as nonfiction. It's only upon memory where you think, who herds an ostrich with a bullwhip?

Sedaris: [Laughs]

Ferris: It probably doesn't happen, I'm not sure. I don't really know where that detail came from. I might have made it up.

Sedaris: Towards the end of the book: "He entered a town of cattle murals and savings banks where he bought a mocha frappuccino." That's so wonderful to me--"of cattle murals and savings banks"--and you can see that exactly and then the mocha frappuccino.

Ferris: I think it would probably be pretty hard to find anything but a mountain that isn't tainted in some way by the modern commercial world. I mean, look off in the mountains and you see them and they're pure and pristine but if you're in a city which mountains are all around you're going to be able to access a mocha frappuccino pretty easily.

Sedaris: I like this toward the end: "The chain gas station with the logo of a dinosaur sold him a map which he studied out by the propane tank.Everywhere he stopped he filled a cup with ice to sooth his burning tongue. His heels ballooned and forced him to unlace his boots and to walk on his toes which led to higher orders of osteo complications in the charnel house of his body. Beauty, surprisingly, was everywhere. In the wild flowers, the wheat fields, the collapsed barns, the passing trains, the church spires, the stilled ponds, the rising suns." I like that you didn't leave that out. That when you see him moving through this landscape you think of the hell that has become his life. Every now and then, like when he sleeps with those cows. When he sleeps standing up, buffeted by those cows, it's sublime.

Ferris: It was important to remember. I mean, he does descend. He descends psychologically, emotionally, and physically and yet it was important that the beauty that is confronted, that is available, in the landscape if you're looking, not be forgotten about. Even despite this condition that's wearing him down. And I'm not sure if it's him that's noticing it so much as the narrator that's noticing it, but toward the end he's certainly reminded of it by Jane and is asked by Jane, basically, to take those details, to remember those details, and bring them home with him in order to bring the outside world in. I wanted to be sure that Tim was looked after to some extent. He's been looked after by his wife. He's been tended to by his family as well as possibly can be. I suppose the narrator, the writer, still had to do that to some extent. The ending was crucial. If I wanted it to end the way that it ends I had to make it compassionate.

Sedaris: I was going to ask, do you keep a list of truisms? Like when you were working on this book--like, Tim's truisms? "McDonald's is quick, tasty, and conveniently located." "Everyone loves TV." "Good shoes are not simply a luxury." "Funny looks from male strangers are unsettling." Do you keep a little list of things that are true like that?

Ferris: I suppose I do inside my brain but not necessarily down on page.

Sedaris: Do you, by chance, have a list of million-dollar ideas?

Ferris: They're more like thousand-dollar ideas.

Sedaris: Do you write them down in one place?

Ferris: I actually e-mail them to myself. You know, the iPhone. If I just have an idea it's a lot like a portable tablet. I'll compose an e-mail to myself, write it down, and then send it, then save it. I'll archive it and visit it later. But they're thousand-dollar e-mails.

Sedaris: I've never done this before. I've never interviewed anyone before. I typed up all these notes and I wish that I could start all over again and do the whole thing over. You don't want to throw stuff away, I guess, when you're interviewing somebody, but like I said, I've never done it before. But regardless of whatever mistakes I had my enthusiasm is genuine and I think this is an absolutely fantastic book.

Ferris: Well, it was a lot of fun talking with you. I think you did a great job. Thank you, David.

Omni Daily Crush: 2010 Cookbook Preview

Today I was going to crush about Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. And then, as if by fate (or maybe it was because I asked for an early copy), James Villas' glorious Pig: King of the Southern Table landed on my desk this morning (thank you, Marcy!). I'm sure you'll see these two titles paired up together in magazine roundups, but I think they each deserve their own time in the porcine spotlight. Inspired by my indecision, I elected instead to offer our readers a quick rundown (in no particular order) of the some of the cooking titles I'm most excited about in the new year. Pig and Ham, I'll be back. I promise.

It's Hard to Decide, But if I Had to Pick Just One Book I'm Really Really Excited About

Right Up My Alley Picks

Seattle Authors I Know--But Don't Just Take My Word For It and Do Check These Out

Celebrity Chefs

Bust Out the Rolling Pin

Food Lit Fix

--BTP

Omni Daily News

Kid Lit Royalty: Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson succeeds Jon Scieszka as the second National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

You Are What You Eat: Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules: An Eater's Manifesto, stopped by The Daily Show to discuss the high cost of eating cheap food.

What to Read in January?: Salon offers their January checklist, including Warren Biskind's Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America.

Moving and Shaking: Thanks to a bump from Imus, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber's Anticancer: A New Way of Life joins our Movers and Shakers list.

--BTP

Omni Daily News

Ode to Joy: Mental Floss takes a look at Joy of Cooking and "the genius" behind the book, Irma Rombauer.

Don't Write Those Obits for the Short Story Just Yet: The Guardian's books blog says that 2009 was the year of the short story.

The Best of the Worst: The Huffington Post presents the Worst Celebrity Books of the Decade.

Moving and Shaking
: Pope Brock's Charlatan: Amercia's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam cons its way past all of the New Year, New You titles onto our Movers & Shakers.

--BTP

Omni Daily News

When You Wish Upon a Chef: British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was awarded the $100,000 TED grant for his work fighting obesity and promoting healthy eating in the UK.The prize money will be used "to enact a wish" that will be revealed at the 2010 TED conference in February.

First Fiction: Granta editor John Freeman picks the Best Debuts of 2009 for NPR.

When "Untitled" Would've Done the Trick: Knitting with Dog Hair (yes, it's real) leads the lineup of EW's ridiculous book titles.

Moving and Shaking: We haven't even made it through the Christmas Eve (let alone New Year's Eve) but early resolutions bring Flat Belly Diet! for Men to the No. 2 spot on our Movers & Shakers.

--BTP

Omni Personal Shopper: The Indie Girlfriend

Our next Omni Personal Shopper assignment is to help this gentleman shake things up from his usual gift of movies to find the perfect book to match his girlfriend's eclectic sensibilities.

I'm used to getting movies for my girlfriend, but this year she's suggested books. She's an art history major but she's obsessed with films, particularly quirky documentaries like Grey Gardens, American Movie, and Anvil: the Story of Anvil. One of her favorite programs is This American Life, and her favorite magazine is Cabinet. In general, she's fascinated by the secret histories of everyday objects and people. I was wondering what books would appeal to her in the same way that those offbeat doc films do?

Challenge accepted.

  • The Jazz Loft Project by Sam Stephenson
    Tom's personal pick for the Best Book of the Month for December, this collection presents "a rare and remarkable window into the New York jazz scene in the late 1950s and early '60s."
  • Too Fast for Love: Heavy Metal Portraits by David Yellen
    And only because I saw Anvil on her "likes" list, I wanted to throw this one into the ring--a photo collection of headbanging tailgaters captured in the wild following their favorite hair bands. There are many perms, mullets, and spandex.

We hope these suggestions help. Readers, feel free to add your own gift ideas in the comments.

--BTP

Omni Daily News

Now Read This: This morning on the Today Show, a quintet of bestselling authors, including Dan Brown and Mitch Albom, shared their favorite books to give this holiday season.

A Very Gourmet Library: New York University's Fales Library has purchased the late Gourmet magazine's culinary library--a collection of 3,500 cookbooks.

Best of 2009--It's Not Over yet: NPR continues the Best of 2009 fever with their picks for the Best 2009 Books for a Book Club.

Moving and Shaking: Many of those above mentioned Today Show picks are climbing our Movers & Shakers list this morning, including Jon Scieszka's Knucklehead, Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked, and The Gourmet Today Cookbook.

--BTP

Omni Daily Crush: "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking"

This weekend, in anticipation of turning my kitchen into a cookie factory for holiday baking, I spent some time flipping through my cookbook collection seeking inspiration. I don't want to reveal the actual recipes I decided upon (just in case you're a reader who's on my cookie list) but the books that made this year's cut were Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dolce Italiano: Sweets from the Babbo Kitchen, The Craft of Baking, and Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

Baked remains one of my favorite cookbooks of recent years--from the stag wallpaper endpapers to the retro, urban-rustic aesthetic of the design of the book to the recipes themselves: Root Beer Bundt Cake, Butterscotch Pudding Tarts, the much-heralded Baked Brownie, Millionaire's Shortbread, Brewer's Blondies, and Peanut Butter Crispy Bars, to call out a few favorites. (One of my favorite tricks I picked up from the book was buying a tackle box to store all of my special-occasion baking essentials: pastry bags and tips, cookie cutters, food coloring, candy thermometer. This frees up precious cupboard space in an already cramped city kitchen.) Former admen Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito opened Baked in Brooklyn in 2005. Much to my disappointment, I haven't taken the trip out to Red Hook to experience their bakery firsthand, but last year over Thanksgiving in Charleston, I made near-daily visits to their then-newly opened East Bay Street outpost.

In the December issue of Food & Wine, Kate Krader writes about a Christmas day potluck that Matt Lewis and Renato throw for their staff. The sweets on the menu included chocolate-gingerbread cookies (in woodland creature cut-outs, naturally) and a Chocolate-Malt Stump de Noël. And, if you follow Matt on Twitter you'll know that they spent a big chunk of 2009 recipe-testing and writing the sequel to Baked, which will be coming out in Fall 2010.

Recommended for fans of The Craft of Baking and Baking: From My Home to Yours.

--BTP

Announcing the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Amazon.com, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the third annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. For the first time, the competition will award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction.The 2010 competition will also now be open to novels that have previously been self-published. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.

Congratulations to last year's Breakthrough Novel Award winner, James King, whose winning novel, Bill Warrington's Last Chance, will be published by Viking in August 2010. Bill Loehfelm's Fresh Kills, the 2008 winner, is now available in paperback. The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction.

The panel for the General Fiction category includes bestselling author Tana French (In the Woods); Molly Stern, Editorial Director and Executive Editor of Viking Books; and Julie Barer, of Barer Literary, LLC. The panel for the Young Adult Fiction category includes bestselling authors Sarah Dessen (Along for the Ride) and Nancy Werlin (Impossible); Ben Schrank, President and Publisher of Razorbill; and Amy Berkower, President of Writers House, LLC.

If you're an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to learn more about the next Breakthrough Novel Award and sign up for regular updates on the contest. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 25, 2010 through February 7, 2010.

Visit the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award page for official contest rules for more information on how to enter.

--BTP

Omni Personal Shopper: The Soccer-Loving Thirtysomething Husband

Today's episode of our Omni Personal Shopper adventure comes from a woman trying to find the perfect book for her well-read, soccer-loving husband.

I'm always on the lookout for good books that my husband will like (32 yrs old). He loves to read but is not very into fiction (although I'm still trying to find novels I can get him interested in). One of his favorite subjects is History (particularly anything to do with Europe--he lived in Vienna for several years, and also in Croatia, so he's interested in that part of the world). But he also LOVES soccer as well as travel-related things (but not just your typical mountain climbing stories). One of his favorites was The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, and of course he's already read Fever Pitch. He also enjoyed The Lost City of Z and Agent Zigzag this year. Any other suggestions?

We've fielded this lineup of titles that we think he might enjoy.

  • Among the Thugs by Bill Buford
    Daphne pointed out that this soccer enthusiast has surely already read the memoir of the former Granta editor and Mario Batali apprentice--one of the most obsessive literary explorations of a sub-culture out there.
  • The Ball Is Round by David Goldblatt
    Tom and I both instantly thought of this one. Tom calls it "An excellent pairing of soccer and history--encyclopedic on both subjects, arguing that you can't tell one story without the other (there are almost as many index entries, for instance, on Argentina's Juan Peron as on Diego Maradona). It's fast-moving and fascinating: one of the quickest 1,000-page books I've ever inhaled."
  • Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games by Tennent H. Bagley
    Seeing that this fellow enjoyed Agent Zigzag, Jon thought of Tennent H. Bagley's account of the strange case of KGB agent Yuri Nosenko as he "vividly recounts the chess match between the rival intelligence agencies during the opening salvos of the Cold War. It’s as cloak-and-dagger as any LeCarre fan could hope--double-agents, miniature cameras hidden behind neckties, microfilm, and other trappings of the spy game abound in this fascinating and fast-paced real-life thriller"
  • The Tourist by Olen Steinhaur
    Anne says "It’s a smart, paranoia-fueled spy thriller about a former CIA field agent who’s forced to revisit a dark past that takes him away from his NYC desk job and back to the international stage. Lots of breathtaking armchair travel here with a hugely suspenseful and sophisticated plot"
  • The Defector by Daniel Silva
    Another Anne pick: "This is also spy-suspense, and it jumps from one glorious location to the next: kind of like James Bond meets Dan Brown. But the rub here is that Daniel Silva writes with the verve and chops of a foreign correspondent (which he used to be before turning to fiction): the plot is twisty and intelligent and commanding but never fails to move along at a breakneck pace."

--BTP

Omni Daily News

Oscar Wow!: In New York magazine, Sam Anderson takes on a decade's worth (2000-2009) of fiction trends in his essay, "When Lit Blew Into Bits," calling out The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as the novel of the decade.

Stories on the Go: Atlantic magazine has teamed up with Amazon.com to offer exclusive, never-before-published short stories from both well-known and up-and-coming authors for Kindle users. The series kicks off with stories from Christopher Buckley and Edna O'Brien.

Shall We Play a Game?: I-play is teaming up with bestselling author Nora Roberts to create a computer game adaptation of Vision in White.

Moving and Shaking: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the third and final volume in the late author Stieg Larsson's trilogy, won't be out until May 2010, but is already appearing among our Movers & Shakers.

--BTP

Omni Daily Crush: "Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition"

Best Books of the Month: December: Just when you thought you've read enough culinary memoirs and single-subject studies on every esoteric food topic imaginable comes Knives at Dawn, Andrew Friedman's sharp, insider account of America's quest to win the Bocuse d'Or--the epicurean equivalent of the World Cup, held biannually in Lyon, France. For over two decades, international teams have entered the arena, cooking for five-and-a-half hours from a glass-walled pod in full view of the intimidating judges and howling spectators (who add to the frenzy with chants and clanging cowbells). In 2009, Paul Bocuse himself enlisted legendary chefs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller (well-known for his obsession with perfection) to field the U.S. team. French Laundry chef Timothy Hollingsworth and his commis, Adina Guest, continued to work their grueling day jobs over three-and-a-half months of intense training, and set the bar for future U.S. brigades. Hollingsworth loves cookbooks and it was fun to see my favorite husband-and-wife food writing team, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, name-checked as Hollingsworth first immersed himself in their kitchen classic, Culinary Artistry, when he first started at TFL, and later turned to The Flavor Bible for inspiration during training. As a prolific cookbook co-author (The Red Cat Cookbook, Welcome to My Kitchen, and Alfred Portale's 12 Seasons Cookbook, to name a few) and contributing editor at Tennis magazine, Friedman is the perfect writer to deliver the behind-the-line coverage of this intense culinary competition. If you don't already know the outcome, restrain yourself from Googling the results, and let Friedman sweep you up with his culinary page-turner.

Recommended for fans of The Fourth Star and The Soul of a Chef.

--BTP

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

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