Arts & Culture

April 2019 Reading List

April brings a shower of new reads, including big-league cookbooks, powerful memoirs, and a charming tribute to one funny-man’s best friend
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Photographs, by Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty had a way of seeing, revealed in the characters of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist’s Daughter, as well as in her lesser-known but powerful skill with a camera. Collected in this coffee table book, re-released after thirty years, are her black-and-white images of her Mississippi travels in the 1930s, plus shots of the people and scenes she saw during trips to South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mexico. In a new foreword, poet laureate and fellow Mississippian Natasha Trethewey describes the photos as “a way to see a time and place I’d only encountered in history books and my grandmother’s stories.”

Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef., by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay

Four years after releasing the bestselling Franklin Barbecue cookbook, Texas pitmaster Aaron Franklin returns with this mouthwatering master course on juicy steaks. He doesn’t skimp on the sides either: find recipes for garlicky mushrooms and twice baked potatoes.

Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir, by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein

One powerful takeaway from chef Kwame Onwuachi’s beautifully written memoir: Cooking keeps stories alive—stories of ancestors, stories of ourselves. Onwuachi describes how his Nigerian roots, Louisiana family, and rocky rise working as a caterer, a chef onboard a Deepwater Horizon cleanup ship, and eventually in fine-dining kitchens, contributed to the success he’s experiencing now, as executive chef of the lauded Kith and Kin in Washington, D.C.—and as a nominee for the James Beard Award Rising Star Chef of the Year.

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays, by Mary Laura Philpott

The Nashville author Mary Laura Philpott’s son once told her, “I miss you when I blink,” and it made her realize she missed herself. The result of that minor mid-life crisis is this delightfully personal but relatable collection of essays-as-memoir that puts Philpott in league with Elizabeth Gilbert, Nora Ephron, and Cheryl Strayed. Among the many moments that shine: The tale of Philpott’s mother, who upon realizing her baby was scrawny, put her immediately on a diet of banana pudding. There is a charming “after” photo.

Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog, by Dave Barry

All the classic trappings of beloved Florida humorist Dave Barry are here—the dad jokes, the wry observations, the charming self-sabotage: “AARP, as you probably know, is the last sound you make before you die.” But there’s also something gentler at work in this ode to Barry’s patient mutt named Lucy—the effect of a dog who loves unconditionally.

Southern Lady Code: Essays, by Helen Ellis

In this spit-up-your-bourbon-funny essay collection, Helen Ellis greases together such topics as thank-you notes, why the trend of “tidying” can address antiques hoarding, and how to force-feed a cheese log to a guest: “Slather some on a Ritz cracker and choo-choo it toward her mouth,” Ellis writes. “One bite and she’s speaking in a Southern accent.”

Julia Reed’s New Orleans: Food, Fun, and Field Trips for Letting the Good Times Roll, by Julia Reed

In the follow-up to Julia Reed’s South, the author gets graciously specific, penning a guide to food and fun in her beloved New Orleans. Full of entertaining ideas, lush photos by Paul Costello, and recipes G&G readers will want to try immediately—satsuma margaritas and seafood gumbo—this book is also stuffed with tips about where to get the best po-boys and Sazeracs, all told with Reed’s signature candor.

Tex-Mex Cookbook: Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border, by Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy

Although chef Ford Fry has sixteen restaurants in Atlanta, Houston, and Charlotte (and three more set to open in Nashville this year), his roots are distinctly Texan. He honors that heritage with a hefty serving of his best Tex-Mex recipes—shrimp-and-pork pozole, barbacoa flautas, and Mexican chocolate flan—photographed and styled gorgeously by G&G contributors Johnny and Charlotte Autry.

Mothers and Strangers: Essays on Motherhood from the New South, edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith

The essays gathered here are about “sons and daughters and mothers and mothering,” writes Lee Smith in the foreword, and “are as varied and surprising as life itself.” Many of these heartwarming pieces also come from writers familiar to G&G readers, including Marshall Chapman, Randall Kenan, Clyde Edgerton, and Frances Mayes.

Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business, by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

The chapter titles in this riveting tell-all about the catering business by Charleston-raised food authors and brothers Matt Lee and Ted Lee share a hint of the drama to be found in the pages—and in the largely hidden world they unveil: “The Client is (Almost) Always Right;” “The Happy Couple Fancied Themselves Food Curators;” “Sixteen Hundred Deviled Eggs.”

The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business, by Wright Thompson

ESPN the Magazine’s all-time most-read articles are by Wright Thompson, the Mississippi native son known for his in-depth profiles of such icons as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. This collection of sports stories will be a highlight for fans familiar with his writing and those who are new to it. It opens with a scene at Kathryn’s on Moon Lake, the old-school Italian joint in the Mississippi Delta that is also the focus of Thompson’s personal essay in the latest issue of G&G.

At Briarwood School for Girls, by Michael Knight

A tightly written story set in Virginia deals with big Southern themes—history, land development, race relations—but at its heart is a coming-of-age novel centering around a prep school junior named Lenore Littlefield who has a secret she can’t keep forever.

Happiness Is Baking: Cakes, Pies, Tarts, Muffins, Brownies, Cookies: Favorite Desserts from the Queen of Cake, by Maida Heatter

“Some people (especially me) will stop at nothing to track down the recipe for a dessert they have tasted or heard about,” writes Maida Heatter, the 102-year-old Miami-based baker who is in the James Beard Foundation Hall of Fame. She delivers here the fruits of her recipe-finding-and-creating labors, including chocolate cookies first made by the Florida author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Georgia pecan bars, and a Mississippi mud pie that calls for a passed bottle of bourbon to pour on each portion.