Celebrating 10 Years of OBOJC Authors: What’s Cooking with Michael Lavigne

Posted: November 16th, 2016

Author Name: Michael Lavignemichaellavigne

OBOJC Book Title: The Wanting

Have you published another book since your OBOJC book? If so, what is the title? Can you briefly describe the book? If you have another book due out soon, please tell us about that one and the estimated publication date.

Yes. My newest book has just been published. It’s called The Heart of Henry Quantum, and I wrote it under a pen name: Pepper Harding. I guess I wanted an alter ego of my own. It’s pub date was October 2016, from Gallery Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. I would describe it as a comic love story about a man who is very much in his own world, with a constant flow of thoughts in his head, who has forgotten to buy his wife a Christmas gift, and it’s just 2 days before the holiday. He decides on a bottle of Chanel No.5 and takes a walk from his office in one part of San Francisco to Macy’s some 20 minutes away. But — uh-oh! —on the way to Macy’s he runs into his old girlfriend, the one who truly owned his heart — and the story takes off from there. It’s told in three voices and explores just how much a single day — indeed a single moment — can change our lives. It’s being translated into 5 languages, and printed in Great Britain and Australia as well. I think you’ll find it in parts hilarious and in parts quite perceptive about relationships and, well, life in general.

What book(s) are you reading now that you would like to recommend to our community?

I have just finished The Angel, by my friend, the Israeli historian Uri Bar Joseph, about Israel’s most important spy leading up to the Yom Kippur War, Nasser’s son-in-law, Ashraf Marwan. Fascinating. Now I am reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, absolutely mesmerizing. I’d also like to recommend Ruth Wisse’s, No Joke, Making Jewish Humor. Not only is it filled with funny stories, it is an incredibly deep analysis of Jewish culture and history — Ruth is a brilliant scholar, but the book is absolutely accessible to any reader.

Please share your memories about OBOJC and what the experience meant to you.

Of course it was a great honor to be chosen as the community read — probably the greatest I had with that book. I felt an immediate connection with the people, was extremely gratified to spend some time with old friends in the area, and I loved giving a talk to so many dedicated readers. One thing stands out — there were, as always, a lot of questions, which is always my favorite part, but one gentleman stood up and just applauded — and then added some very kind words. He really got what I was saying, which was about much more than just my book, and I felt truly appreciated. It was a lovely moment I won’t forget.

Please attach a favorite recipe (or the name of a favorite dish) and tell us why it is meaningful to you.

Varenya. I learned to make this form of Russian jam in Moscow from my dear friends, the Ortenberg/Rakitchenkov clan. It’s more liquidy than our jam and they used wild strawberries, which I can’t get. In Moscow, they often added it to tea or ate it with a spoon during tea (as well as other times, of course). As a matter of fact, I’m making some today. I can’t give you exact proportions, but basically: a layer of sugar, a layer of strawberries, a layer of sugar, a layer of strawberries etc. — and cook it. That’s it! Strawberries can be cut or whole. Cook to the consistency you like, but if you overcook, you may lose flavor. The flavor, by the way, completely depends on the quality of the berries and out here in Sonoma, California, there’s a fabulous strawberry patch just a few miles from our house. Alas, this is probably the last batch of the year — good thing we stock up on the local wine to see us through the winter!

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