Book Review: A Halogram for the King

A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers

Lizzie rating: 4.5/5

Alan Clay is stuck. His marriage, doomed from the start, fell apart a decade ago, he’s deep in debt, and he’s being quickly outpaced in his career. In a last gamble he has traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the hopes of signing a big business deal.

Eggers moves effortlessly between the present and Alan’s past recollections. Alan is soberly reflecting on his life; his recollections are occasionally pessimistic but never truly cynical. In a subplot, Alan writes dozens of drafts of a letter to his college-aged daughter. Desperate to communicate the best way to handle her mother and other life advice, Alan struggles to distill his own experiences in lessons he is comfortable with.

The book is a true product of it’s environment and heavily influenced by the 2009 economic crisis. Like many Americans, Alan is trying to find his place in the New Normal.┬áThis book is extremely readable while staying true to its characters struggles.

MLK Day March

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Rach and Leo

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The back half of the march heading up Union

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Hey ho! 15 now!

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Leo rolls in solidarity

Seattle has one of the largest, most diverse MLK Day celebrations in the country. This year thousands of people flooded the streets, many decked out in red and in support of the 15 Now campaign. It was a beautiful, sunny day and everyone was in a spirited mood.

Still feeling that good MLK Day juju? Democracy Now! always has good coverage and this piece on King’s real legacy is an inspiring reminder of the breadth and depth of King’s fight for justice.

In the Kitchen: Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Recipe: Pork Meatball Banh Mi from Bon Appetit

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Om nom nom

This sandwich is amazing. You should make and eat it.

(That is literally all I had written for five days. I’ve gone back to my drafts half a dozen times trying to think up a story or a tie in or something, anything more profound than “put this in your mouth as soon as possible!” But there is nothing. I mean, there are plenty of things. There is Sherlock to watch. There is some Chris Christie scandal I should probably be paying more attention to. And there is a wild and glorious internet to conquer. But there is nothing more to say about the sandwich. Make the sandwich. Eat the sandwich. Die happy.)

Book Review: NW (Incomplete)

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Untitled (Zadie with chipped nails)

NW, Zadie Smith

I did not finish NW. I did, however, follow the Rule of 50 and gave it my best shot before putting it down. After White Teeth and On Beauty I was surprised at how much I struggled with this novel. I found the characters hard to follow and uninteresting, the sentence structure jarring and distracting. Even the way Smith writes dialogue in this book was off putting. Perhaps someone with my fortitude than I have can give it a try.

In the Kitchen: Black Eyed Peas and Collards

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For a prosperous new year

Happy New Year! I picked up the black eyed peas and collards tradition* last year. At the dawn of 2013 I would pretty much have danced naked in the street to ensure that luck was on my side. And you know what? It ended up being a kickass year. When I found this slow cooker version and realized I could have all the luck with 1/4 of the effort I jumped right on board.

I modified the recipe slightly by omitting the ham and it still turned out great. Everything got prepped before we went out and then I just turned the machine on after the fireworks. I woke up to perfectly tender beans and a brand new year!

*Helen, my favorite Southern, tells me that black eyed peas are for good luck and the collards are eaten for wealth and prosperity. I don’t hate that.