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Entertaining Disasters

A Novel (With Recipes)

List Price: $14.95

January 6, 2009 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 336 Pages | ISBN 9781582434513
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“With deftness and wit, Nancy Spiller delivers needle-sharp insights into middle-class life and marriage, while portraying the dissolution of a family and the rise of longing for a culinary salvation.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black

“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” —Auntie Mame

In print, FW, the unnamed freelance Food Writer of Nancy Spiller’s sardonic debut novel Entertaining Disasters, lives high on the food chain in the heady realm of L.A.’s culinary journalism scene. She waxes poetic about her hip home gatherings, thinly veiling the identities of her Hollywood guest list. But in reality, FW’s been inventing the dinner parties she writes about because social paralysis sets in at the very thought of a real guest in her fabulous—or is it shabby?—hillside home. She’s gotten away with her inventions for a decade because in L.A., nobody cares; the gastronomic dream machine that sustains her private world is not a “three picture deal.” Enter the glossy food magazine editor, new to town, who wants an invitation to one of her bashes, and the panic-stricken journey from fantasy hostess to reality bites is on.

This book—at turns whimsical and deeply affecting—chronicles the struggle FW faces in the week before she hosts her first real dinner party in ages as her estranged sister threatens to drop by, her husband takes off, and her house implodes. In the way of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, Nancy Spiller’s book is filled with the fabulous culinary lore and delicious sounding recipes that have made FW’s writing such popular foodie manna. Now all she has to do is somehow bring this fantasy world into workaday reality.

Welcome a writer of great wit and depth, who examines the history of domestic science even as she allows her protagonist to face the ghosts that haunt her own psychic kitchen.

NANCY SPILLER is a writer and artist currently living in Los Angeles. A third generation California native, she was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a graduate of San Francisco State University. She served as staff feature writer at the San Jose Mercury News and its Sunday magazine, West , and at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. She was editor and internationally syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate’s Entertainment News Service. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, McCall’s, Mother Jones, Salon.com, and Coagula Art Journal. Her fiction has appeared in the Rain City Review.

She has studied art at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design and UCLA. Her recent installation and exhibition at L.A. Contemporary Gallery in Culver City, “Reverse Trash Streams: The Junk Mail Project,” featured 157 pounds of shredded junk mail, the result of one year’s worth collected at her home, accompanied by her Shredded series of paintings and drawings. Art in America lauded it for its humor, resigned pathos and concern with “larger social issues.”

She lives with her husband Tom, their dog and two cats at the edge of a preserved coastal canyon on Los Angeles’ wild western edge.

Praise

“With deftness and wit, Nancy Spiller delivers needle-sharp insights into middle-class life and marriage, while portraying the dissolution of a family and the rise of longing for a culinary salvation.” —Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint it Black

Entertaining Disasters is a unique contribution to the fiction with food genre begun by Nora Ephron and continued with Fannie Flagg. Nancy Spiller’s heroine in this textured and touching fictional memoir has an entertainly ambivalent attitude toward the subject—her first dinner party in ten years. I defy the reader not to identify. Bon appetit!” —Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means

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