By Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman
Workman Publishing, 2012
485 pages, $22.95
ISBN 978-0-7611-5669-7
Vegetables are not only fun to grow, they are great to eat, too. And nobody tells how to do both better than Barbara Damrosch and her husband, Eliot Coleman.

Damrosch and Coleman own the Four Season Farm in Harborside on Cape Rosier (Blue Hill Peninsula), where they grow vegetables and fruits year round. They are both skilled gardeners and talented writers — Damrosch with “The Garden Primer” and Coleman with “The New Organic Farmer.”

Together they combine their vegetable growing and cooking mastery to produce this marvelous growing guide and cookbook. They use vegetables and fruits from their own farm, and benefit from the exercise, good nutrition and their passionate belief that “Everything about the act of growing plants seems like a custom-made antidote to the stresses and deprivations we experience in modern life.”

This thick, beautifully illustrated book has two parts: Half is devoted to growing and harvesting vegetables and fruits easily and well, the other half contains 120 recipes for cooking and enjoying the garden’s bounty all year long.

“The Garden” presents simple instructions and tips for all types of vegetable gardens, including soil, layout, crop rotation, what to grow (featuring six garden types like the Hard Times Garden and the Self-Reliant Garden), tool use, seeding, watering and mulching.

“The Kitchen” offers tasty recipes for appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, egg dishes, vegetables, meats, seafood and desserts. Damrosch says delicious home-grown and home-cooked food does not have to be fancy, so these meals can be light or hearty. She observes, “Our diet is like that of a well-fed peasant.”

Learn how to grow the $100 tomato, tricks with frozen tomatoes, how to “grabble” a potato and how to make Irish colcannon. Sidebars, conversion tables and a handy list of resources complement this useful guide.

By Ron Currie Jr.
Viking, 2013
340 pages, $26.95
ISBN 978-0-670-02534-3
Some folks drink alcohol to make other people more interesting, but author Ron Currie hasn’t yet mastered that skill, despite herculean efforts to consume all the rum and beer in the Caribbean.

“Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles” is Ron Currie Jr.’s third novel, a tragi-comic soap opera about the self-destructive behavior of an insecure novelist obsessed with a woman he can’t have. And to complicate things, his main character in this story is also named Ron Currie. See the irony?

Currie lives in Waterville and is an award-winning author.  This booze-soaked tale will remind some readers of “The Rum Diary” by legendary lush Hunter Thompson, but with a bit more humor.

Currie’s obsessive love for Emma, a long-time friend and lover, is so all-consuming he can barely function. His first novel enjoyed minor acclaim, but now he’s stuck with a bad case of lethargy. Their on-again, off-again torrid love affair (spiced up with violent sex) ends badly and he flees to a Caribbean island where he drowns his memories and civility in tropical beverages day and night.  Continual drunkenness and frequent brawling (he loses most of the fights) are interrupted briefly by efforts to write a novel about Emma.

His despair drives him to rash action, resulting in a botched suicide attempt. However, once he is erroneously declared dead, his unfinished novel and even his phony suicide note are turned into stunning financial windfalls as the Internet’s celebrity machine makes him into an instant icon.

When he finally returns to the U.S. years later, he discovers people hate him as a fraud, angry that he is not really dead. “Being dead is clearly the best thing I’ve ever done for the world. Maybe I should’ve stayed that way.”

Readers may hope for a happy ending, but they won’t find it here.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.

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