Tuesday, August 04, 2015

My Invitation Must Have Gotten Lost

When a publisher is keen on some new author, they will put money into promotions to generate buzz. Those who get six-figure advances are expected to become money-makers for the publisher, and the publisher will therefore invest in that author. Get them out there to meet the public, sign books, be interviewed about the book, etc. etc., and hope that the reading public sees the brilliance that the publisher did.

Not every author on a book tour gets to attend a special dinner party, however.

I am assuming my invitation to the recent Dinner Lab fest was lost in the mail. Fell out of the mail plane or something.....

Viking is heavily promoting KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST as it is laid down, and so author J. Ryan Stradal is on the road to hawk his prose. The book is food-oriented, with the protagonist described as a woman with a unique palate who becomes an acclaimed chef. Further adventures follow, which I will have to wait to discover as I cannot afford brand-new books and did not win one when Viking held an ARC giveaway.

At any rate, due to the theme of fine dining and chef-dom, Mr. Stradal ended up at a dinner in Chicago. Not in your normal restaurant, but in a temporary space that exists just long enough to create the one meal. His novel reflects this notion of pop-up dining, so it was appropriate that he be in attendance to discuss his novel. Living the fiction, in a way, and so the members of Chicago's branch of the Dinner Lab were treated to a unique menu that reflected the cuisine described in KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST.

Those with the financial means to become members of the select group are also those who could afford to buy a novel. They are also the types to belong to book groups who will talk about a novel, and generate buzz amongst themselves which then vibrates through their social circle. Like ripples in a pond, as they say, news of this exciting new book spreads and Viking's parent (the Random Penguin) doesn't have to pay more for the added publicity.

Perhaps it is just as well that I missed this particular get-together.

No matter how acclaimed the chef who does the preparation, I cannot believe that anyone can make lutefisk palatable. Mr. Stradal may have been demonstrating the classic Minnesotan tendency to be very nice and polite when he later claimed that it was the best lutefisk he'd ever had. All things considered, it may not be all that much of a compliment.

But what's a man to do after a food-centric group sits politely through his sales pitch? The chef used the recipes mentioned in the novel as a starting point for his menu creation, bringing fact and fiction together in an otherwise delicious blend of tastes and textures.

I could have skipped the fish course. If I had been invited.

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