Thursday, January 17, 2019

Molly MacRae

Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

MacRae lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

Her latest novel is Crewel and Unusual (Haunted Yarn Shop Series #6).

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. MacRae's reply:
My five ways I’m starting the New Year:

Warm—The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (translated by Philip Gabriel). This is a folkloric road trip story told mostly by Nana, a wise, self-sufficient cat. Nana and Satoru, the young man with whom Nana has lived for the past five years, are travelling around Japan in a silver van, visiting Satoru’s oldest friends. I’m only in the middle of the book, and find it completely engaging. I do wonder, with some trepidation, why Satoru is looking for a new home for Nana, but I feel sure the cat’s calm, philosophical take on life will make the journey worthwhile.

Dreaming—The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, 2019 edition. The catalog is 354 pages of full-color photographs—tomatoes with names like Sunrise Bumblebee and Lucid Gem; lime-green Chinese Shawo Fruit radishes; peppers, melons, herbs, flowers—all “mmm-mm-mm” and “wow.” Will I actually grow any of these wonders? Probably not. Our yard is heavily shaded and overrun with squirrels, but hope and delusions are strong motivators for me. The catalog includes interviews, a few recipes, and a fascinating account of a seed-hunting trip to China.

Salivating—Milk Street: Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball. This is my favorite kind of cookbook; there’s a picture of every single dish to drool over and everything in it can be made in less than an hour. Many can be finished in 25 minutes or less. What I’m trying this weekend: Maple-Whisky Pudding Cakes. Start to finish: 45 minutes.

Adventurous—The Capture of Black Bart: Gentleman Bandit of the Old West by Norman H. Finkelstein. This is exciting nonfiction for middle grade readers. We follow James B. Hume, chief detective for Wells Fargo & Company, as he doggedly investigates and tracks the poet bandit through 28 stagecoach robberies from 1875 to 1883. Upon capture, Black Bart (real name Charles Boles) revealed that he took his alias from his favorite story, The Case of Summerfield by Claxton (penname of William H. Rhodes), serialized in the Sacramento Union newspaper in 1871. You can find The Case of Summerfield in Project Gutenberg and see for yourself why Boles thought it such a good joke to call himself Black Bart.

Encouraged—Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell. This is a lovely, invigorating compilation taken from Gaiman’s speeches, poems, and manifestos. He’s a champion of ideas, reading, libraries, books, bookstores, and creating art. What better way to start the New Year than to be told so robustly that what you do matters?
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

My Book, The Movie: Crewel and Unusual.

--Marshal Zeringue