Customer Reviews for

The Book of Salt: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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5 Star

(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2003

    DEBUT BY A UNIQUELY GIFTED AUTHOR

    Debut novelist Monique Truong appears blessed with a delightfully fecund imagination. Of her cooking the Saigon born author says, 'I cook for pleasure. I cook to experience something new.....I always cook or rather I always `taste' the food first in my mind. I approach a recipe like a story. I imagine it. Sometimes I have a dream about it, then I go about crafting it.' From her description most of us would relish joining her at table. Fortunately, all of us can join her through the pages of her poignant and mesmerizing first novel 'The Book Of Salt.' Inspiration for this fictional memoir was found as Truong was reading the Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, and ran across references to Indochinese men who cooked for Toklas and Gertrude Stein. Thus, Binh, Truong's protagonist and narrator was born. The opening scene is the train station in 1934 Paris. While Toklas and Stein are going to America Binh's choice of destinations is not revealed. Will he go to America with the two formidable mesdames, stay on in Paris or return to his native Vietnam? As these possibilities are considered, Binh recalls his younger years, his ostracism for his sexual orientation, his nights in Parisian haunts, and his unhappy love affairs. Weaving her tale between Binh's life and the fascinating goings-on in the Toklas/Stein household the author allows readers to savor numerous sumptuous meals and meet celebrities, including Paul Robeson and Ho Chi Mihn. Sensuous, mouth-watering details enrich this artful examination of fascinating lives.. We await with eager anticipation the next offering from this uniquely gifted author.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2004

    Masterful

    THE BOOK OF SALT is a brooding, disturbing, yet beautiful novel about a strangely sympathetic chef, totally enigmatic. Binh is a literary original, and so is the author, Monique Truong, who is clearly writing from her own experiences as a Vietnamese exile. They say that an author's first book is usually autobiographical, and this one succeeds, as far as I can see, because it is. In fact, the autobiographical novel is my favorite kind of book to read. You can sense the truth in every detail, and the writing is not as cumbersome as in many of the memoirs, which too often are straight historical accounts. No, there is music in the language and epic life in the telling of the story. I highly recommend this novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2003

    A novel to read and re-read and read yet again

    This novel is a must read for anyone who has been a traveler looking for a home. The prose is efficient, but requires a careful reading to discover the intrigue waiting below the surface, just as Miss Toklas' lamb reserves its flavor until after the taste. The pages turn themselves, and compel the reader to explore not only the mysteries of the narrator, but the myseries of the reader's own heart and mind. Bihn's troubled 'secrets', such as his habit of cutting, are exposed gently and with artful verbiage. For any of us, this genteel revelation is exquisite and contemplative. I must read it again.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2007

    BOOOOORRING!!!!!!

    Will this ever end? Ms Truong writes a long boring stream of consciousness....(I almost lost mine!) Her descriptions of Stein & Tolkas in Paris and French occupied Vietnam are wonderful, but between those 2 places the interior world of the narrator is one long boring ramble.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2007

    Not what it pretends

    Anyone who buys this book believing it is about food, feasting, cooking or sitting in on any of Gertrude Stein's parties at a time when her Paris salon was visited by so many influential artists, writers and other creatives is going to be EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED. Book manages to demean both Stein and Toklas's work and lives as only an envious out-sider can. More of a self-pitying romance novel than historical fiction. I gave it one star but deserves a black spot. Back cover blurb completely misleading.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2005

    I Had No Attachment to ANY Character!!

    My book club chose this title for one of our Summer reads. I read it to the very end and believe me, it took all I had in me to finish it! The writing was very 'pretty', but the characters left little to be desired. The only character I felt connected to or any attachment to was the boy's mother, and she wasn't even hardly mentioned in the book. The constant drinking and mentions of gay sex were a real turn off for me!! If I had have known they were in the book I never would have read it in the first place! Spend your time reading something else!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2004

    Okay But Not Great

    I really wanted to like this book, but I couldn't get through it. I felt that it went on and on. The narrative voice annoyed me somewhat and I just couldn't get into the story.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2012

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    Posted April 17, 2014

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    Posted May 9, 2011

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    Posted April 6, 2011

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    Posted February 18, 2010

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    Posted April 28, 2014

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    Posted February 6, 2011

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    Posted July 21, 2011

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    Posted September 7, 2010

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    Posted October 18, 2011

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    Posted August 19, 2014

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