Monday, April 18, 2005

COOKING FOR LOVE, by Sharon Boorstin (iUniverse)

For those (so many) people that have asked if I write chick lit, here is the answer: no. I don't like to read chick lit. I find it formulaic and, more often than not, insulting. Even the covers are predictable.

That said, let me introduce a most worthy book: COOKING FOR LOVE by Sharon Boorstin. You might call it chick lit--if your chicks are 49 years old. Maybe this is the vague "hen lit" that people tell me is becoming/was hot. Who knows. In any case, this book is anything but formulaic or insulting.

COOKING tells the story of Miriam Levy, a cookbook author who has (as you can guess) fallen head first into (the end of) mid-life. When her best friend googles an old flame, gets in contact with him and ends up wanting to travel around the world to reignite the fire, Miriam comes along and the adventure gets spicy (ba dump dump.)

The writing is light and fun and full of life and is far better than any of the chick/hen/mommy/girl/slut lit that I have (been forced to) read over the years. Ms. Boorstin is a clever writer and manages to incorporate food in the most creative way (the recipes are available at the end of each chapter.)

But there is another interesting (and admittedly self-serving) substory here: Ms. Boorstin's first book, LET US EAT CAKE, which was released in 2003--not by iUniverse, but by HarperCollins (ReganBooks) and sold vigorously. So why did COOKING go POD? According to Ms. Boorstin's website, the publishers found the 49-year-old protagonist an unlikely winner among readers--because readers can't identify with 49-year-olds. Of course--we all know mature women are not readers; they're out clubbing. How about the fact that this author had a built-in following of readers? If her first book had sold 100,000 copies, the protagonist could have been 89 and it would've been published, believe me. But a print run of, say, 5,000 is not as appealing. When POD becomes the standard print mechanism, no one will care anymore.

What would have happened had POD not come in to save the day (and this book from a lightless desk drawer?)

I think we all know the answer.