Simon & Schuster, $40
Reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino
Left Neglected is a cautionary tale for any modern-day woman juggling career, kids and marriage. Its heroine Sarah Nickerson is a high-flying, multi-tasker who crams every minute of her day full to bursting. You know the type - she’s got three kids, two houses and an 80-hour a week job in human resources. Oh and a husband she really must remember to have sex with.
But then her life comes crashing to a halt quite literally when she looks at her phone instead of the road one morning while driving to work and ends up rolling her car. Waking in hospital Sarah discovers she has a condition called Left Neglect. Her damaged brain refuses to pay attention to anything that’s on her left – including her own hand – it simply no longer exists for her.
Sarah’s rehabilitation takes up a big chunk of the story. Stuck in a neuro unit, unable even to pull up her own trousers, she is dependent on nursing staff and, horror of horrors, the mother she’s barely had a thing to do with for years – not since she was a child and her brother drowned in a neighbour’s swimming pool fracturing the family. While the rehabilitation portion of the novel does go on a bit, the changing relationship between mother and daughter is beautifully drawn and the obscure condition Left Neglect a rich source of plot possibilities.
She is also the Books Editor of the Herald on Sunday where the above review was first published on 8 May, 2011 as were the Book Watch and Booklover columns below.
I hadn’t thought much about pressure cookers in the years since I left home but now they are back big time. Today’s pressure cookers are safe, sleek stainless steel devices that can cook just about anything in no time at all.
The New Zealand Pressure Cooker Cookbook (rrp $35) is sub-titled “ Lisa Loveday’s tasty, economical recipes for busy Kiwi cooks”. The author has worked in the food industry for more than 20 years and her recipes are nutritious, delicious and easy to make. I made Sweet Chilli & Lime Steamed Salmon which was divine. The second dish I made from this title was Chicken Cacciatore and it was all done in about 20 minutes from start to finish and made a great mid-week dinner
This too is filled with mouth-watering recipes for soups, starters, meat, poultry, vegetables and puddings. I made the Red-Cooked Pork, a classic of Chinese home cooking, and it couldn’t have been simpler. The other dish I made from this book was Chicken With 40 Cloves Of Garlic. A whole free range chicken weighing nearly two kilos took a mere 20 minutes to cook. And it went down a treat.
David Mitchell is a UK author whose most recent novel is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. He will be appearing at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.
The book I love most is... ......To choose only one feels like an act of betrayal to all the others. If forced at gunpoint, I'd go for a big fat volume of Chekhov's stories - one which includes his novella, The Duel. But I can already hear Conrad and Tolstoy and Giuseppe di Lampedusa and George Eliot and Sylvia Townshend Warner and John Cheever on the sidelines booing and calling out Right, yeah, thanks a bunch, pal - and after everything we've done for you. Then there are the poets, the historians, the biographers, the travel writers and science writers... We could have a riot on our hands.
The book that changed me is.......... I don't think I have been changed by a book, to be honest, not in a Damascene conversion sort of way. Don't you think change is more a matter of increments, day-by-day, encounter by encounter? Only by looking back 15 years at the younger stranger you used to be does the accumulated change become visible, but the majority of that change is down to life-lessons, not book-reading. Oh dear, that all sounds a bit self-helpy, doesn't it?
My favourite bookstore is..........John Sandoe's Bookshop in Chelsea, London. And Three Lives Bookstore in New York. And my local, Kerr's Bookshop in Clonakilty, West Cork.
The book I wish I'd never read is.......... If a book is so manky a dog that you're going to regret reading it, you've only got yourself to blame if you do. I'm 42, I read maybe 25 books a year, with luck I'll live another 40 years, which adds up to only 1000 books. I probably own more than a thousand unread books now. If, after 50 pages, a book isn't doing anything for me, it's time to say goodbye.
The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival runs from 11 to 15 May. For details go to www.writersfestival.co.nz