Thursday, November 7, 2013

Binnie Klein

Binnie Klein is a psychotherapist, writer, and radio host. Her 2010 book is Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind.

Recently I asked Klein about what she was reading. Her reply:
Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake…And Other ‘Recipes’ For the Intellectually Famished by Rebecca Coffey (Beck and Branch Press, 2013)

Rebecca Coffey is a science journalist and humorist who sent me some audio versions of a few of the astounding “recipes” from her collection to play on my radio show at WPKN. From the very first recipe for Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake, in which instructions include “Kill God. Set Him Aside” and “Ecstatically whip, as if possessed by a storm-wind of freedom, 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar…” I was hooked. Coffey selects 22 cultural icons (among them Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Anais Nin, Sigmund Freud, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck) and creates individual recipes for food based on their ideas and writings. From Ayn Rand’s “Head Cheese,” in which you must “stand naked at the edge of a granite cliff” as you assemble your ingredients, to Dante’s “Backyard Barbecue” – I laughed out loud, and was dazzled by Coffey’s brain. This is how school should be – bringing philosophy and literature to life through humor and subtle nuances of understanding. It’s not what you’d call a practical guide (don’t try to make Carl Jung’s “Epiphany Cakes,”) but this cookbook helps you think.

Care of Wooden Floors, a novel by Will Wiles (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)

I became interested in this novel while researching ideas for a public radio show about our relationship to our homes, and contacted the author for an interview. He was British and polite. His book is also screamingly funny, odd, and written by this architecture and design journalist who has some definitive opinions on the cult of the precious in home design. Wiles’ protagonist agrees to housesit for the obsessive and perfectionistic Oskar. He goes into a perfect home in an anonymous Eastern European city and becomes a monster while caring for Oskar’s piano and cat and wooden floors. Wiles told me we live in a world full of difficult Oskars, but he has empathy for them. He understands why objects become indispensable to people, and in its descriptions of “unusual” feeling states as the narrator descends into madness, Care of Wooden Floors becomes a manual of philosophy and mysticism.
Visit Binnie Klein's WPKN webpage, and learn more about her book, Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Binnie Klein and Griffin.

--Marshal Zeringue