I have some news to share before I get into today’s post: my second novel, Southern-Fried Woolf (SFW), has been longlisted in the Page 100 competition! I’m thrilled.
SFW also received a great editorial review recently. Here’s a line from it: “A celebration of how books and music can help one transcend life’s daily trials, Southern-Fried Woolf is a quick-witted and erudite novel, drenched in a love of literature and music.” I’m dancing over here. Makes me want to say to the reviewer over at SPR “You get me, really get me.”
Now on with the post.
I read Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway recently, and I am obsessed! Read it!
In it, there’s a heartwarming scene in which a tough youth named Duchess lovingly makes Fettucine Mio Amore for his friends. It’s very much a last supper scene, and even in the midst of this feast, you can feel the despair, the rush towards ruination that this young man is making. This is a sacred moment of communion.
Before I even discovered that this is a real dish, I knew I’d attempt to recreate it, because it’s central to the novel. (I interact best with art by creating something based on it. In this case, it’s eating the same food that these characters did.)
The recipe isn’t complicated, though I will say that Towles might want to stick to writing novels, as he merely tells the reader to make fettucine for four with no further instructions on how to cook it. Obviously, it’s not difficult to boil pasta, but it seemed an afterthought almost in the recipe.
When my and Barry’s daughter, Mia, was growing up, I made her fettucine alfredo and homemade bread every birthday. It was the only time that I made bread from scratch most years. I told her about Fettucine Mio Amore, and she agrees that I should make it for her the next time we’re together on her birthday. I can’t wait!
The Lincoln Highway is evenly, compellingly written. The language Steinbeckian. Measured. Purposeful.
The plot, something you don’t always get in equal doses with a book this well-written, is sure-footed. Again, not something I expected in what I assumed was literary fiction. That’s not to say the characters aren’t original and memorable, because they decidedly are.
I have stayed with Towles’ book for more than one reason. My current WIP is a novel in third person. Having written my first two novels in first person, that’s what I’m accustomed to writing. I fear this has resulted in too close third in my latest book. So I’m scrutinizing TLH to see how Towles does it.
Spoiler alert: Lincoln Highway is not all in third. I may mimic that. But his novel is a masterclass in writing measured, unheated, unhurried language, and I want to learn how to imitate that.
Towles’ pasta recipe resulted in a hearty, satisfying dish, much like Towles’ writing. Simply pairing bacon and bay leaves with fettucine, tomatoes, and wine shouldn’t have been so pleasurable, and yet it was. Makes me feel like heading to the grocery store to buy the ingredients to give this recipe another go.
Bon appetite! And if you do try it, send me a pic.
As for my experiment with my writing, well, that’s ongoing.
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