Found on Nag on the Lake.
The Core of the Sun, Johanna Sinisalo’s latest book (translated into English by your faithful correspondent) has been in bookstores for a month, and the reviews are starting to come in.
I particularly like a piece by Jason Heller on the NPR website that discusses the abundance of interesting speculative fiction in Finland, and how hard it is to find English-language publishers for these riches:
The Core of the Sun comes out in the United States this month, three years after its release in Finland. Considering how startling and moving the book is, that lag is a shame — yet Sinisalo is lucky. Precious few Finnish authors of speculative fiction receive such a boon as widespread American exposure, despite the fact that Finland — like so many countries around the globe — has a thriving spec-fic scene whose best writers rival those of the English-speaking world.
The reasons behind this are as mundane as they are frustrating: A lack of recognition, the cost of translation, and the American book-buying public’s hesitation in general to dive too deeply into the vast pool of books written in a language other than English. Exceptions abound, of course — The Core of the Sun obviously included, although it remains to be seen if Sinisalo’s brilliance catches on in America — but they often require a champion in the U.S. publishing industry to step up and put some muscle behind them.
I wrote a piece on translating Johanna Sinisalo’s work for the Seattle Review of Books this past winter, and it’s fun to notice signs that my article is one resource that reviewers consulted in writing about the book.
I love peanut butter, so rich and delicious, but I have never liked peanut butter cookies. The traditional American peanut butter cookie is too sweet for me, and doesn’t taste rich like peanut butter. So I started altering the recipe until I came up with a delicious, shortbread-rich cookie that suits my taste.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup (120 ml) butter and/or shortening
1/3 cup (80 ml) white sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) brown sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) pure peanut butter (not the kind with added fat or shortening)
3/4 cup (180 ml) white flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking soda
salt to taste
5 to 7 ounces (140 to 200 grams) of chocolate chips or chunks.
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Cream shortening or butter and sugars together until smooth. Add egg and beat well. Stir in peanut butter.
Stir the two flours, soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients and mix well. Add chocolate chunks and distribute evenly through the dough.
Form dough into 1-inch (2.5-cm) balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork.
Bake at 375 F (190 C) until done.
Makes 5 dozen cookies.
It’s a variation on the classic Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook’s Criss-Cross Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Basically I reduced the sugar, increased the peanut butter, left out the vanilla (which tastes weird with peanut butter IMO), replaced half the white flour with whole wheat, and added chocolate chips or a chopped up chocolate bar.
I prefer the hearty, salty taste of Hershey’s chocolate in this recipe. If you can’t find Hershey’s chocolate chips for sale, I’ve found that chilling a Hershey bar and then chopping it into small chunks works very well. I’m sure any not-too-soft chocolate bar, or whatever chocolate morsels you like the taste of, would work fine.
I also cut the recipe in half, because I don’t need 10 dozen cookies, but it scales up perfectly if you want to double or triple it.
For Valentine’s Day we went to see the short animations that have been nominated for Oscars this year. We came away with two favorites.
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, directed by Konstantin Bronzit, is about two cosmonauts who are best friends. It’s made in a simple, hand-drawn style, and it’s a very moving story. There are small, poetic touches in the animation that are quiet little surprises. A film with a warm heart.
Historia de un Oso, directed by Gabriel Osorio, is computer animation, and at the beginning of the film I thought that the slick look of it was going to make it hard to enjoy, but as soon as the story within the story began, it showed a truly amazing visual and spatial imagination. This film is cute and scary and sad and touched by a dark politics.
If you like animations, I have tons of them posted.
I ran across these delightful drawings on the American Museum of Natural History’s website. They’re pictures that Charles Darwin’s children drew on blank sides of the discarded manuscript of On the Origin of Species after the book was published.
I’ve recently discovered the Public Domain Review, a compilation of beautiful and fascinating things in the public domain.
A recent post on their site is about a friendship book, a sort of scrapbook to share with friends, belonging to a girl growing up in the late 18th century. The book is just five inches by three inches, and includes drawings, poems, and collages contributed by her friends.