My friend and I were browsing in Powell’s on Hawthorne when they [sic] pulled a copy of Zazen by Vanessa Veselka from the shelf. They looked at it, handed it to me and said, “Hey, take a look at this while I head to the bathroom and see if you think I should get it.”
I flipped the book over and read the summary on back. The description read, “a parallel America on the verge of collapse.” The main Character Della is a waitress at a local vegan diner. Bombs are exploding in the distance and she listens to them get closer and closer. Dun dun dun! Revolution, rebellion and radishes. The three Rs. It went on to mention sex parties and Della getting caught up in mysterious plots she can’t seem to get out of.
My interest was definitely piqued, so I turned to a random page and read:
I saw Annette’s face looming black and carnivorous. Try to be friendly, don’t make eye contact, back away slowly. Make macaroni and cheese. Side dishes are non-confrontational and potentially evocative of a southern heritage. (p11 Zazen, by Vanessa Veselka)
I have no idea what is going on in the book at this point, who Annette is, or why anyone would think mac ‘n cheese is a side dish and not a main course, but using side dishes as a tactical maneuver is brilliant and amusing. I would, however, wonder about serving carnivorous Annette a vegetarian dish.
When my friend found me again, I told them to purchase the book, and added it to my own mental list of every book in the world I want to read.
The cashier slipped the book into that signature Powell’s paper bag with the orange Oregon outline on it and smiled. “This is a great book. The author’s from Portland, too,” she said. Local Author Bonus Points! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Paragraph Review’s conclusion for this week: Go get that book, and a bowl of mac ‘n cheese!