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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.

Archive for April, 2009

Vacation prep

Posted on April 30th, 2009 by annakjarzab

First things first: new post up about copyedits at The A Team, check it out.

Next: My tailbone hurts…why? I haven’t fallen down any marble staircases on my butt recently, at least not that I remember (that is a possibility, it has happened before).

Thirdly: I am going on vacation! Actually, that is a lie, it is a very short jaunt to California for a wedding, as I have previously mentioned like a bajillion times. But I’m leaving New York for the first time in four months, and that needs to be celebrated because I seriously never leave this island and I’m feeling a bit claustrophobic.

There are things that I know I should do to prepare to go out of town tomorrow. I should pack, first and foremost, but all my clothes are dirty. A sensible person would do laundry, but this morning in the shower I decided to go a slightly less economical route and just buy new clothes for my trip. This seems lazy and stupid, and it is, but also I was going to try to buy a new dress for Carmen’s wedding (way to leave that to the last second, self!) anyway, and I do need new summer clothes because I tend to wear things out rather than spend time and money to replace them, so, really, it is also very practical, albeit for impractical reasons. Also, I’m only going to California for two days, so really I only need, like, a new shirt in addition to the dress.

I don’t really care about packing for trips. I know there are some people who get excited by picking out and planning the clothes they’re going to wear, but I don’t. What I get excited about is what books I’m going to pack. I always take way too many because I never know what I’m going to want to read on the plane. I have so many options. I’m definitely bringing Mahbod Seraji’s Rooftops of Tehran with me–not only are Mahbod and I agency-mates, but he lives in the town next door to my parents’, which is an interesting coincidence. Then there’s the long-ago reduced bound manuscript of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, lent to me, along with the ARC of Fire, by a friend. I actually have a ton of YA ARCs accumulated from various sources that I want to read, so I could take any of those with me.

Speaking of YA ARCs, I finished Justine Larbalestier’s Liar a few days ago and it was SO SO SO GOOD. I love YA that is edgy and pulls no punches, and Liar was that for sure (another example of a book I read like that recently is Courtney Summers’ Cracked Up to Be, which was wonderful–also, Michael Northrop’s Gentlemen took some risks that surprised me and worked out really well). I adored it, and I can’t wait to buy it when it comes out in late September. I can’t even really talk about it here because I’m afraid I’ll spoil it if I do, and, while I already knew the major twists and turns of the story before I read it and I think I loved it the more for it, Justine’s asked that nobody whoops such things on the Internet and I respect that. I’ll probably be posting a similar plea when All Unquiet Things ARCs start floating around, although the person most likely to commit such a sin is myself, because I love spoiling people and being spoiled.

Back to book packing, I picked up a couple of Simon Doonan’s books in pb a few days ago, too, and I might take Eccentric Glamour, which appears appropriately whackadoo, with me just for kicks (for I doubt it will make much of an impact on my style).

Anyone else got suggestsions suggestions*?

*Yes, I suggest you learn to spell “suggestions” right. Also, if you’ve come this far, there is more hidden content up on the site today, and there will be more in the following days, so remain vigilant.

Hidden! Content! live

Posted on April 29th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Last night was weird. I got some good news yesterday afternoon (hopefully I’ll be able to tell you about it soon), and I spent most of the night trying to call my family and tell them about it, but nobody answered their damn phones! I thought they were talking to each other, but apparently they were all out.

So I was alone in my apartment and not getting a hold of anyone, and for some reason I thought it’d be a good time to log into my Mint profile and rearrange my budget (I was “using”–and by “using” of course I mean ignoring–the default one) because I’d really like to get an iPhone, if I can swing it financially. I’m trying really hard to live exclusively off of my salary and not supplement too much with book money, but I want to get an iPhone because I want access to my email and the Internet and Evernote and all the cool things that make it easier for me to be a writer, business-wise and creativity-wise, so I think it’s a solid career investment. This is not me rationalizing a fancy, trendy purchase! (Okay, maybe it is, but it doesn’t make the rationalization invalid.)

And then I was going a little nuts because my bedroom is so small and cramped and I’m sick of having to do all my work in a 9×10 closet and I need more space and I read Full of Snark every day and she just bought an apartment and I was all, “How can I swing buying an apartment?” LOL because I live in NEW YORK! Where everything is so stupid expensive you could cry. And I’d want to stay on the Upper West Side, which, while not the most expensive place to buy in the city, is certainly mostly out of my price range–if I even have a price range, which I don’t know because I don’t know how much money you need to sensibly purchase a home, even in this economy, in this city and whatnot. After lots of frantic Googling, I decided to just make it a goal to work up to buying an apartment in a couple of years and leave it at that, because calm down, girl, you can not afford to buy an apartment.

Anyway, it’s completely amazing that I was able to get anything productive done yesterday evening, but I was. I wrote over 1,000 words in GR, otherwise known as Book 3, which is about four pages. Already I’m deviating from my synopsis (which is of course nowhere near done; I’ve been jumping the gun and writing the stuff I already have planned because I’m so excited for this book I couldn’t wait to get started). Well, not necessarily deviating, but getting a little exploratory in my new domain. It’s so nice to be writing again.

My roommate was out of town on business yesterday, and when she got home we chatted for a while. It turns out that she’s been reading my book bit by bit and hadn’t told me, not wanting to say anything until she finished, but then she told me anyway so whoops. She said she thought she knew who did it but didn’t want to say anything to me because she’d be able to read my reaction (I’m the worst bluffer), so I had her email me her guess before I went to bed. I’m excited for her to find out whether or not she was right.

By the way, there’s some hidden content live on the site now. Happy hunting!

California Dreamin’

Posted on April 28th, 2009 by annakjarzab

One of my weekly rituals here in New York is Wednesday night pub trivia. I’m not very good at it, but trivia has a really important place in my life here–it’s where I met most of my close friends in New York, and it’s at least one time a week when I can count on seeing most, if not all, of them. We’ve become tight with the bartenders, and the whole place feels so homey to me–it’s quite a touchstone for my life here.

Anyway, my friend Tony, who runs Wednesday trivia with his cohost Janet, started a new trivia night at a different bar and decided to have a rotating stable of cohosts, each delivering one round of questions per week. Last night, I was that cohost. I’ve been bugging Tony to let me cohost trivia for about nine months now, conveniently forgetting that I hate public speaking of all kinds and that I have trouble reading things aloud in front of people. I should be a joy to behold at readings and signings come January, you guys! So when Tony scheduled me, I was excited, until a few days ago, when I realized how anxious I was about all of it. Whoops.

But, you know, it’s good practice, and it went totally fine, although I did read too fast for a while as I am apt to do and there were only three teams who showed up this week. Ah well, can’t be perfect, and because there were only three teams my team won third place, so, silver lining. Tony did say that the questions I wrote were great and required almost no surgery from him, which was a nice compliment. Now I’m a little hooked on the experience and I! WANT! TO! DO! IT! AGAIN! Tony said I could in late July, so get excited for that, New Yorkers.

For fun I thought I’d post my questions (the theme of the round was California Dreamin’, although I was too afraid to say something so cheesy on stage so I just told them the theme of the round was California). I’ll put the answers in white below the questions. Let me know how many you get right!

1. Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill was founded in 1983 in San Diego after Ralph Rubio brought what local dish home from Baja California?
A: The fish taco.

2. Speaking of Baja California, the northernmost Mexican state is bordered by two bodies of water—the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Gulf of California to the east. What is the other name for the Gulf of California?
A: The Sea of Cortez

3. As of 2005, there are ten campuses in the University of California public university system, and they all share a school motto, Fiat lux. What does Fiat lux mean in English?
A: Let There Be Light

4. In San Jose, CA there stands a late Victorian mansion that features 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, two ballrooms, cost an estimated $70 million in 2008 dollars, and requires 20,000 gallons of paint every time it is repainted. This house was built by the president of what gun manufacturing company’s eccentric widow?
A: Winchester

5. What other state besides California has elected a governor from the cast of Predator?
A: Minnesota

6. Because he’s so down with what the kids are doing these days, how did San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announce his 2010 candidacy for Governor of California?
A: Via Twitter

7. The USC Trojan Marching Band was featured on a hit song that went up to #8 on the Billboard charts, and it’s still played at SC football games today. Give me the song and the band who released it.
A: Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk”

8. Los Angeles is a big sports city. Everyone knows that the Dodgers play baseball, the Lakers play basketball, and the Kings play hockey, but what sport did the Los Angeles Riptide play before they were shut down this year because of the financial crisis?
A: Lacrosse

9. What is the largest city in California not to be serviced by an Interstate freeway?
A: Fresno

10. What famous American model, credited with popularizing the naval piercing and currently married to actor/writer/director Ed Burns, was born in Walnut Creek, CA in 1969?
A: Christy Turlington

Lots of thanks

Posted on April 27th, 2009 by annakjarzab

This morning I got an email from my editor saying she wanted to call me today to go over a few questions she had about the copyedits. Of course, because I’m a worrier, I was all, “Oh, crap, I did everything wrong, I suck, waaaaaah,” but it turns out that there were just two queries in the copyedited MS that I left unanswered accidentally-on-purpose-sort-of, meaning I couldn’t think of an answer and meant to go back to them but then didn’t because copyedits made me cross-eyed towards the end, and one where I completely missed the boat on the context of the scene and referred to a girl as a guy in the change I made. Whoops! All fixed now, though.

My editor also thanked me for the things that I said about her in the acknowlegments, and of course I was like, “It’s true! This has been a great experience! You’re so good at your job!” which, what? “You’re so good at your job,” while sincere and true, is an awkward way to say thank you to someone who’s been working so hard on your book for six months. But that was my closing statement on that subject, and I thought I might amend it here by saying that my experience with Delacorte has been truly delightful, especially my experience with my editor. I’m so full of appreciation and gratitude for the dedication, support and enthusiasm everyone at RHCB has shown my book, and it feels slightly undeserved (as in, I don’t feel quite so deserving of such great attention, not they don’t deserve thanks), but I’m going with it.

I’m sure that in the coming months I will meet so many great people who won’t be in the acknowledgments because it’ll already be set in stone before I meet them but I will wish I could insert into the acknowledgments because they are totally awesome, so thank you in advance to those people and I’ll get you next time around.

Writing my acknowledgments page was really hard, actually. I went back and forth a lot, and I don’t think I got it all right yet, in terms of giving people the important shout-outs they deserve. You don’t want to leave anybody out, you don’t want to give people less credit than they deserve, or make them feel uncomfortable by heaping on the praise. Me personally, I feel just as indebted to the people who made my life easier or better in ways unrelated to the book in the time that it took me to write it as I do to people who actually read bits of it and commented or built my website or took my author photo or whatever–all those people are important to me. People who took the journey with me, who supported me and cheered me on even as they were otherwise uninvolved, are crazy responsible for how good an experience this has been, too. So. If I didn’t get it exactly right this time, I will in Murder Burger (or in first pass pages, if I can). TRUST.

91 degrees* and sunny

Posted on April 26th, 2009 by annakjarzab

I had such grandiose plans for today, and I chucked it all for an afternoon at the park with Dubbs and Bri, playing Bomb and sampling (NOT EATING) the world’s worst guacamole, which we picked up on a whim to go with our tortilla chips and ended up sorely regretting, although what do you expect for $2.75?

Still, beautiful day. I don’t love summer–actually, I hate it, what with the sun (I burn so easily) and the humidity and the dust and the smog and the stagnation, inside and out because my roommate and I only have one air conditioner and it’s only effective within a three foot radius–but I adore spring, and while today was much more summer than spring, at 91 degrees (!!), it was a dry heat and very tolerable in the shade.

The park was ridiculously delightful. Last summer I didn’t spend a whole lot of time there for some reason, but now that some of my friends live only a few blocks away from my favorite bit I think we’ll be having some serious park time this summer. It was amazing how fragrant the trees, until recently all barren and despairing, were, perfuming the entire area (nice, soft breezes in the late afternoon carried the scent very effectively) and putting everyone into a pleasant mood. New York lights up in the spring and summer–people have been visibly happier in the last few days than they’ve been in months, myself included. This is going to be a fun, busy summer for me, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Even though it’s only 10:40, I’m pretty much ready to hit the sack. Something about the heat and the sun and the pasta in my stomach makes crawling into bed with the fan on full blast seem like just the right thing to do. G’nite, Internet. Can’t say I missed you today, but I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll catch up then.

*Now my weather widget is saying the high was 93 today. Tomorrow, a much more manageable 80 degrees, although I’ll be stuck inside at the office and won’t get to enjoy it. Le sigh.

The Freshmen

Posted on April 25th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Music is a big part of my writing process. Not that that’s original, but it’s true. The playlist for All Unquiet Things is extensive, the result of almost seven years of work, and each of those songs can conjure up a particular scene for me. Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes” is a slow, tortured ending to the book, and Mum’s “We Have a Map of the Piano” is its conteplative beginning. Music is a huge part of that book, more than my other books so far.

Last night I had drinks with Joanna and my friends Abby and Cambria, which was wonderful, of course–lots of publishing and YA book talk with a generous sprinkle of relationship talk, which seems to be a constant topic of conversation with most of my friends lately (or maybe it’s always been?). It was lots and lots of fun, as always, and, as always, made me wish Joanna lived here.

But okay, so I was standing on the street corner later that night, a real New York streets with a bar on the corner and a famous restaurant with twinkle lights in the trees and a row of beautiful brownstones and a film shoot taking place across the street, and for the first time in probably three or four years I heard the strains of The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen.” For the young ones who didn’t grow up in the ’90s, that band, a milder grunge ensemble, was pretty much a one-hit wonder, with “The Freshmen” being that one hit. I remember them playing it at our eighth grade dances. It’s sad and plaintive, a song of mourning for lost relationships and long-ago mistakes.

“The Freshmen” was a central song on the AUT playlist the first time I wrote it, when I was in college, but for whatever reason it fell off when I rebooted the book in grad school. The truth is that I’d forgotten about it. But when I heard it last night, I was remembering the book the way it was, thinking about it the way it is now, and sort of marveling at how much time and work and dedication and help it took to get to the point I was at. I just turned in my copyedits yesterday when J and I had lunch with my editor. I know I still have first pass pages to go, not to mention the actual release of the book and the excitement and terror that actually comes from having people unrelated to me read it and form their own opinions, but as for writing, well, I’m pretty much done. AUT is basically finished, and I feel a little sad about that. The book has been my project for a good chunk of my life now–my entire adult life, actually–and no matter how many other projects I had simmering on the stove, it was always there to go back to. It’s a weird feeling to know that it’s as finished as it’s going to get, and that soon it’s going to be a real book and not just a file on my computer.

It made sense to me that I heard “The Freshmen” last night, at the end of this journey with AUT. I don’t want to sound cheesy or maudlin or anything, but I was a little sad. Not weepy–GOD NO–but a little touched. As Cambria reminded me, I’ll probably never work on a book that long again. *Shrug* I guess there’s nothing to do now but celebrate.

Book Meme

Posted on April 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

I took this from Diana Peterfreund, who grabbed it from The Book Smugglers. I haven’t done a meme in a while, this should be fun.

1. What author do you own the most books by?

Well, like I’ve said before I’m not really an author fan, I’m a book fan, so I don’t tend to own any author’s entire corpus, but I guess I have at least one copy of all of Jane Austen’s books, and I have all of John Green’s books and Diana Peterfreund’s books (including an ARC of Rampant, which I didn’t realize was getting a new cover but apparently it is), several Agatha Christie novels and many of Shakespeare’s plays. Oh, you know what, I have a copy of almost everything Sylvia Plath ever wrote, too.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?

Probably Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I think I may have three copies of Jane Eyre, two of which are the same edition.

3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Jason from Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland.

4. What book have you read more than any other?

Probably The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, Pride and Prejudice, Hey Nostradamus!, Atonement by Ian McEwan, Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie, Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, A Wrinkle in Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

5. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

To the best of my recollection, The Little White Horse.

6. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

I don’t often read bad books, mostly because I’m good at picking out books I would like (and my friends are good at recommending I read things that I’ll like), and everything I’ve read in the last year has been decent to great, so I’m going to go with The Emperor’s Children, which I read at the beginning of 2008 and definitely did not respond to. I’m open to arguments about why it’s good, but I personally didn’t connect with it at all. Vile Bodies would be another one I’ve read in the last year that I didn’t hate but also didn’t like, which is too bad because I love Brideshead Revisited and Evelyn Waugh in general.

7. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

East of Eden.

8. If you could tell everyone you tagged* to read one book, what would it be?

East of Eden.

9. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski, not because it’s especially difficult to read, but because the subject matter is at once deeply engrossing and horrific and at times funny, and I felt like I was missing about fifty layers of subtext, socio-political commentary, and philosophical resonance. I know I should go back to it, but I don’t want to, even though I really loved it. My relationship with this book is highly dysfunctional.

Also, Crime and Punishment, both for length and for sheer boredom. I really disliked it. And Les Miserables for length and, at times, sheer boredom, but I came out of it a big fan.

10. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

Neither. I like the British. No offense. I’m not a big fan of the Russians (obvs), although I’d like to read Anna Karenina someday. And I’m not sure I’ve read a French novel other than The Stranger, which isn’t my favorite, and a few things by Anna Gavalda, which I loved but I don’t think they qualify for this question. Oh, no, I’ve read some Dumas. Okay, I guess the French by default.

11. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?

I don’t think that Shakespeare v. Chaucer is a fair comparison, so I’m going to say both of them and not Milton. I love love love Chaucer, but he and Shakespeare did wildly different things for the most part, and I love Shakespeare, too. I’m not sure I’ve ever read any Milton, not even Paradise Lost. You can’t read everything!

12. Austen or Eliot?

Austen. I haven’t read any Eliot, so I honestly can’t compare, although in the end I’d probably choose Austen anyway.

13. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

American Literature before 1900. I’m not a huge Am Lit person anyway, and I only took one class on it in college and it was American Literature II, so yeah, I’m missing the old stuff. Although I did read Charlotte Temple, which some people say is the first American novel, and I didn’t like it very much, and I read Huckleberry Finn, which I liked a lot. Although, honestly, there are SO many gaps in my reading it’s hard to choose just one. Pretty much all genres (romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy) have been neglected by me these past twenty-two years.

14. What is your favorite novel?

Hey Nostradamus!, I think, followed swiftly by Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford and Pride and Prejudice.

15. Play?

Twelfth Night and Proof.

16. Poem?

I’m not big on poetry, but I really like Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” and John Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”.

17. Essay?

“Words on a Flyleaf” by Anne Fadiman or “Up, Simba” by Daniel Foster Wallace.

19. Non Fiction

Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford.

20. Graphic Novel?

Haven’t read any. Sorry! I read a lot of Archie comics when I was young, does that count/

21. Science Fiction?

Stranger in a Strange Land, The Door Into Summer, and The Rolling Stones–all by Robert Heinlein. Also, hello, A Wrinkle in Time.

22. Who is your favorite writer?

I don’t really have one, although a short list would include Nancy Mitford, Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh, and Douglas Coupland.

23. Who is the most over rated writer alive today?

Toni Morrison, and I say that liking a lot of her stuff, but the Oprah effect…

24. What are you reading right now?

Gentlemen by Michael Northrup and The Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji. I also just got my hand on an ARC of Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, so I’m eager to start that.

25. Best Memoir?

I just read The Glass Castle early this year and really liked it.

26. Best History?

Sorry, I got nothin’.

27. Best Mystery or Noir?

I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan, and in my humble opinion her best books (of the ones I’ve read) are Sleeping Murder (Miss Marple’s last case), Curtain (Poirot’s last case), The Man in the Brown Suit, The Tuesday Night Club (now called The Thirteen Problems), The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd, and And Then There Were None. I’m not so well-versed in mystery and noir otherwise, which is sad, although I really liked Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn which is some more modern noir.

*I’m not planning to tag anyone. Although, I mean, Shannel, if you want to fill this out, give it a whirl. You, too, Kim.

All Unquiet Things on Amazon!

Posted on April 21st, 2009 by annakjarzab

Could this week get any crazier? I’m finishing up copyedits, Joanna is coming into town later this week and we’re having lunch on Friday with my editor, we’re putting up HIDDEN! CONTENT! on the website (er…probably), and then today I got a very nice email from fellow Delacorte author Varian Johnson (My Life as a Rhombus, Saving Maddie) informing me that All Unquiet Things is officially up for pre-order on Amazon!

Just in case you thought I might keep quiet about this, here is a random sampling of reactions from my friends and family:

My sister Fish: “Siiiiick.”

My friend Cambria: “HOORAY!!! Don’t worry, I told them I wanted to read it on my kindle.”

My friend Carmen:Just ordered!! so excited for you, Bananza!*”

My friend Monica:yay, it’s eligible for super saver shipping”

My friend Mary: “fancy!”

My friend Kim: “I’m currently trying to convince everyone I know to pre-order your book.”

The funniest reaction came from my uncle, but I’ve noticed that people born before 1975 tend to hate being quoted on blogs without permission, so you’ll just have to trust me.

*This is an actual nickname that someone uses for me.

In praise of the internets

Posted on April 21st, 2009 by annakjarzab

I had a very productive night last night. FIRST, I watched one and a half episodes of Bones–major achievement! (Not at all.) Also, I cooked dinner, another one of my “lazy” meals (perhaps you are familiar with my Lazy Chicken Cacciatore, which I learned this weekend means “chicken for hunters” in Italian or whatever). Actually, this meal is only lazy if you consider the fact that I make it because I’m too lazy to go to Trader Joe’s, which is about twenty minutes from work in the opposite direction of my apartment. (So, forty minutes from my house.)

You see, Trader Joe’s has these amazing frozen pasta dishes that are low-cal and also delicious. My favorites are the mushroom linguine and the gnocchi, but because of the aforementioned farness of my local TJ’s I only go once in a while, stock up, and then when I run out I run out. I’ve run out. I ran out several months ago, in fact, and the last time I had a supply it was one I’d dragged back from Chicago because it was less annoying to bring frozen pasta from another city than it was to get it here in New York. Go figure.

Thus, I have to resort to reproducing these pasta dishes as best I can. I haven’t found a way to reproduce the mushroom fettucini, although believe me when I do figure it out I will tell you, but the gnocchi is really easy. First, I buy prepared gnocchi from the grocery store. Sometimes I get the frozen kind, sometimes I get the vacuum sealed kind, I haven’t found a noticeable difference except often the bags of frozen gnocchi (depending on which brand; I can’t remember what mine is called) yield more food.

First, I boil the gnocchi (this takes almost no time, because they cook almost instantly–you’ll know they’re done when they’re floating on the top, like ravioli) and drain it, then heat up a pan with a little bit of olive oil (maybe two tablespoons) and half of a forkful of minced garlic. (Again, I am lazy so I buy the kind in the jar. The garlic amount is for sure not hard and fast, because some people don’t like garlic as much as I do. Use what feels good to you.)

Once the garlic is nice and sizzly, I throw in the gnocchi and dump about a cup of pasta sauce on top (add more if it doesn’t seem like enough, and some will cook off). I use Brad’s Low-Fat Roasted Garlic pasta sauce because it’s my favorite (I also use it in the Lazy Chicken Cacciatore), but anything is probably good if it doesn’t have chunks of vegetables or meat in it. Then I throw maybe half of a handful of shaved or grated cheese (I’ve been using asiago recently, but parmesan works, and chunks of mozzarella would definitely work, mmmm) on top and mix the sauce, garlic, and cheese all the way in with the gnocchi. It takes about two minutes, and it’s scrumptious. I eat it with frozen vegetables sometimes (green beans or broccoli), but last night I had a salad with mesculin greens, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and balsamic vinegarette dressing (the spray kind).

Okay, so anyway, besides making dinner and watching Bones, I got some real work done last night. I got farther in my copyedits (I’m over halfway done now) and I even solved a little issue with the POWER OF WORDZ AND COMPROMIZEZ. Maybe I’ll tell you this story one day. I also wrote almost 2,000 words in GR, which I hadn’t touched in months. I was able to write because of research I did at the touch of a button online, which is pretty amazing.

As soon as I told my mother what GR was about, she suggested we go visit some ghost towns (California is lousy with them) on one of my trips home this summer. She sent me a link to a website that lists all the CA ghost towns*, and I think I’ve decided I want to go to El Dorado County–probably Coloma and Georgetown and maybe Placerville for the Gold Bug Mine–because that’s where GR is set.

I’m also toying with the idea of dragging the fam to Rescue (also in El Dorado County), because that’s the town GR is based on. Luckily for me, Rescue (which has a very anorexic Wikipedia page) has its own historical society, where I was able to get some documents describing the town’s people and past and a map of the historical sites that are still standing. El Dorado County also has its own historical museum in Placerville (another reason to make that a stop on the tour) and two websites devoted to its history. And that’s only the research for GR I did last night–I also used a great deal of research I’d already done on another Bay Area historical oddity, all of which I found on the web.

God I love the Internet.

*This website is a little weird, though, in that it lists my parents’ county as part of Southern California.

Lazy Sunday

Posted on April 19th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Today was pretty blissful. I woke up around 10:00 and sat around my apartment for a while, working on copyedits and eating some breakfast and watching some movies (the end of 2 Days in Paris, which was GREAT, and the beginning of Spider-Man 3, just ’cause). Then I took a shower and got ready because I had lunch plans with a few of my girl friends. Not just any lunch plans. Polish lunch plans.

My friend Monica and I are both Polish, and we’ve been talking for a long time about trying to sample all of the Polish restaurants New York has to offer, which is a decent sized handful. I think it was probably a mistake, but we decided to start with the one that has the most personal recommendations and the highest Yelp rating, Królewski Jadło. Królewski Jadło (“King’s Feast”) is in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the most Polish part of the city, but not the easiest to get to. Dubbs and I met in the 96th St subway station (not recommended generally, it’s too easy to miss people, but we worked it out) and took the 3 train to the L train to Bedford Ave. If it was winter, or we were excessively lazy, we would’ve had to change to the G train at Lorimer and take it to Nassau Ave, which is only two blocks away from the restaurant, but since we were almost forty minutes early and it was gorgeous outside today, we decided to get out at Bedford Ave and walk the eleven or so blocks.

I’m glad we did. It was sunny and warm (but not too warm) and you could see the Manhattan skyline perfectly from McCarren Park. Greenpoint reminded me a little bit of Norwood Park, the neighborhood my grandmother lives in. It was nice to hear people actually speaking Polish as we walked up Manhattan Ave, because truthfully that area has been gentrifying for years now, with the hipsters (ugh) pushing farther up into the northernmost parts of Brooklyn and, by moving into an area because of its “culture”, effectively ruining that culture. So it was nice to see that hasn’t entirely happened yet in Greenpoint, although it’s probably because the neighborhood isn’t the most accessible–if all you have is the G train, sometimes you’re better off walking.

Luckily, when we walked into the restaurant there was a table for five (since Dubbs was bringing her new beau) right in the front, empty and waiting for us. We had big glasses of Żywiec, my favorite Polish beer, and a potato pancake appetizer (they came topped with sour cream and salmon, and I even ate the salmon, which is rare for me, as I despise almost all food from the sea) to start. The potato pancakes were delicious, if a bit small. For dinner, I had the mixed pierogi (meat, cheese and potato, and sourkraut and mushroom, all amazing, but I think the cheese and potato were probably the best of the lot), fried, and the miezeria, a cucumber salad. It reminded me I need to buy dill.

As for my friends, Monica got the kielbasa, Cambria got some sort of meat in mushroom gravy, Dubbs got the hocks with potatoes (hocks of what, nobody really knew–I think pork?) and her man Dan got the hunter’s stew, which launched us into a wholly inappropriate conversation about whether it is illegal to eat people. Not kill people, mind you, but to cannibalize them–in a Donner party kind of way, or a Stranger in a Strange Land way. We haven’t yet settled the debate, but it looks like if it’s not technically illegal, the government frowns upon it. And so do I, for the record!


Dude, I feel exactly the same way. Cannibalism is totes gross.

Isn’t that a great still? When I paused The Tudors on Netflix, this is what it rested on, and I really felt like I had to have it as a .jpg.

This actually ties into AUT a little bit. (Not the cannibalism.) There’s a scene in the book that takes place in a Polish restaurant in San Francisco. This restaurant actually exists! It’s called Old Krakow and I’ve been a few times with my parents and siblings. I really like it, but the food isn’t what I’d get on my grandmother’s table, necessarily–Królewski Jadło was more like homemade.

Okay, back to copyedits. I’ll let you know how our Tour de Polish Foods of New York (note to self: get a new name for this experiment) goes, although I’m a little bit worried we might’ve started at the top, the food was that awesome. If anyone has any good recommendations, let me know.