MY LIFE IN FRANCE JULIA CHILD She loved France. She loved French. She even loved the French. But what Julia Child, all 6 ft. 2 in. of her, loved most was the oddly captivating things the French ate, things that nobody ate where she was from, provincial Pasadena, Calif. When her husband Paul moved them both to Paris after World War II, she learned to cook snails and everything else expertly. Later, in books and on television, she fed those things to Americans, and we duly loved her for it. But this posthumous memoir, written with her grandnephew Alex Prud'homme, is about her years abroad, when she attended cooking school in Paris and co-wrote her classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's--what else?--delicious.
LET ME FINISH ROGER ANGELL Angell was born in 1920, and in what has to be one of the most entertaining and gracious prose styles of his gracious generation, he initiates us into the long-lost delights of being a moviegoer in the 1930s ("We were the lucky ones, we first citizens of film"), a baseball fan in the age of Ruth and DiMaggio, a motorist when cars had wooden-spoked wheels, a drinker during the ascendancy of the martini and a New Yorker editor of sufficiently long standing to have worked with William Shawn, James Thurber, Ogden Nash and Donald Barthelme. He was born lucky and he knows it, but he also knows that luck is never quite enough. "Life is tough and brimming with loss," Angell writes, "and the most we can do about it is to glimpse ourselves clear now and then."
MY LIVES EDMUND WHITE His mother was a psychologist. "I must have been eight," White tells us, "when [she] gave me my first Rorschach." He survived her many attempts to analyze him, well enough to become a lyrical novelist (A Boy's Own Story) and a shrewd biographer of the French convict-litterateur Jean Genet. Life takes White through New York and Paris as well as through lovers, hustlers and the shopworn theatrics of S&M. The chapters that detail his forays into sexual abjection don't always work, but in the end, his book bears out the line he quotes from the sly French writer Madame de Staël: "Whoever can still take an interest in himself is not unhappy." You won't be either.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY HOWELL RAINES "There is," Raines tells us, "nothing as gone, as utterly lost to us, nothing as definitely absent and irretrievable as a lost fish." This from a man who lost one of the biggest fish in media, executive editorship of the New York Times, after the infamous Jayson Blair scandal. In this easy chair of a book, Raines, frank, engaging and not entirely without rancor, hops nimbly from the newsroom to such remote waters as the Kola Peninsula in Russia and the seas around tiny Christmas Island. "Howell eats gunpowder for breakfast," one Times reporter says of him. At least he can have fresh trout for dinner.