Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Local Bacon: Anne Byrn + Andrew Maraniss + Shane Neal

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November’s glories include three new books by Nashville authors – Andrew Maraniss (“Games of Deception”), Anne Byrn (“Skillet Love”), and Shane Neal (“Portrait Painting: My Point of View”).  

In “Games of Deception,” Andrew Maraniss tells the story of the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany, where the first U.S. Olympic basketball team competed.

There are three primary threads in the book, Maraniss says:

1 – The 1891 invention of basketball by James Naismith as a winter diversion for students at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., the speedy international growth of the game, and the lobbying efforts of legendary Kansas Jayhawks coach Phog Allen to have basketball included in the Olympics, finally convincing the Nazis in 1936.

2 – The unlikely creation of the first U.S. Olympic basketball team. Players working at an oil refinery in a small Kansas town and another team of stagehands at Universal Pictures in Hollywood were combined to create the first “Dream Team.”

3 – The ’36 Olympics themselves as “games of deception.” Hitler meant Berlin to serve as a facade to fool international visitors – to convince them that rumors about Nazi human rights abuses were false. The book explores the early days of the fascist regime as well as antisemitism and racism on both sides of the Atlantic.

Maraniss further explains that:

“Games of Deception” is marketed as a Young Adult book… but I wrote it in a way that will appeal just as much to adults (it’s just a bit shorter than a typical ‘adult’ book). It’s getting really nice reviews so far from both YA and adult reviewers, including comparisons to “Boys in the Boat.”

Well now – that’s a nice comparison. I’d be mentioning that too!

For Sean Kinch’s terrific interview with Maraniss, please stop in at Chapter 16 here. Maraniss, Kinch writes, “has developed a knack for topics that explore the intersection of sports and politics. In his first book, “Strong Inside,” he told the story of Perry Wallace, the Vanderbilt basketball player who broke the color barrier in the Southeastern Conference. After the success of that book, Maraniss stumbled on a new project when, during a visit to the University of Kansas, a friend asked, “Did you know that James Naismith was in Berlin to see his invention become an Olympic sport?” Immediately, Maraniss decided to write about the connection between the Nazi Games and the history of basketball. The result is “Games of Deception”.”

Book launch: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 6:30 pm, at Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN.

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The lovely and prolific Anne Byrn is back with a new offering. 

Here’s what Byrn’s publicist says about “Skillet Love” – 

Who knew you could make so much amazing food in one 12-inch cast iron skillet? Anne’s dishes are truly revelatory.  

Yes, it’s her publicist talking, but other sources are giving her high marks as well:

“Byrn reminds cooks of the almost infinite versatility of the cast-iron skillet… No gimmicks here, just great recipes.” – Booklist, starred review

“Byrn (The Cake Mix Doctor) salutes the cast-iron skillet in this eye-opening and tasty collection. She presents a top-notch variety of recipes… For those looking to learn about cast-iron skillet cooking, Byrn is an astute teacher, and this collection showcases new and appealing ways to create delicious meals using a kitchen mainstay.” – Publishers Weekly

Recipes include: small plates and snacks like Potato Onion Latkes with Cucumber Raita, and Grilled Cheese A Dozen Ways; breads like Black Skillet Corn Bread, and Homemade English Muffins; brunch at home including French Toast Challah Bake, and Fresh Asparagus Frittata; salads and veggie sides like Hot Bacon and Romaine Salad with Basil Buttermilk Dressing, and Last-Minute Scalloped Potatoes; mains including Skillet Salmon Two Ways, Sunday Night Cheeseburgers, and Seared Lamb Chops with Tomato and Mint Slaw; and desserts like Georgia Burnt Caramel Cake and Brown Sugar Skillet Blondies.

Anne will speak at Harpeth Hall School (in Nashville, TN) on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 6 pm; click here for other tour dates in places like Birmingham, Durham, Pittsboro, and Winston-Salem.

This book has “holiday gift” written all over it!

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I’ve known portrait artist Shane Neal for more than 15 years and have had the pleasure of traveling with him to London, Scotland, and New York (as a member of group tours he’s led). I’ve been lucky to have the chance to observe him in close quarters. And am luckier still to be his friend.

Shane as an artist gives his clients the best versions of themselves. He curates himself impeccably. Is there room for honesty? Yes. And also – beauty, strength, and virtue. And light. There can be a tension. Is it possible to serve a higher purpose in a portrait, other than the god of vanity? I think so. 

Here’s how the book has been described, in promotional info:

For the artist, Neal’s book includes rich tips and information from his own experience as a painter as well as teachings passed down to him from his long-time mentor, Everett Raymond Kinstler. For the non-artist, travel with Neal through his accounts of fascinating clients, many of whom have changed history, such as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Playwright Edward Albee, Businesswoman and Philanthropist Martha Ingram, Scottish Laird Sir Malcolm Colquhoun, U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Shane’s book is talkative, friendly, thoughtful – and beautiful. It’s his journey in his own words. Which seems – just right.

For Shane’s Bacon post on Walter Isaacson’s “Leonardo DaVinci,” please click here

Shane will speak Thursday, Nov. 14, 6:30 pm, at Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN.

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No leaves were moved or harmed  in the taking of these photographs.

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