things we like ft. Vyasar Ganesan

Writes Vyasar Ganesan, of his father: “His noodles are nearly Szechuan in fire, searing the tongue while leaving the nerve endings just open enough to appreciate how painful they are. His idli, cooked in a white plastic egg tray put in the microwave, are swollen and puffy just as idli should be, but are grittier, the taste of Bisquick flour pressing against the gums.” Vyasar, from Austin, Texas, is a food writer and cultural critic whose food sensibilities inform his writing, and vice versa. In his work one can detect a sharp tongue and comprehensive literary palate shaped by a career working as an ice cream scooper, telemarketer, carpenter, tutor, alcohol proctor, and more. He is currently working on a project about Indian food in America, which he wrote about in his graduate thesis “Indian Food in America: The 6 Essentials,” excerpted above. His specific literary interests are food writing, amateur engineering, Indian life in America and travel writing. You can find his work in Agave Magazine, Limbic and Illusion, and the National Gallery of Writing. For more information, visit vyasarwrites.com.

 
  Image courtesy  Penguin Random House Canada

Image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada

I’ve always admired Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories, but Unaccustomed Earth is where she shows true mastery over the form. I cry every time I read the last story, a long and tragic love saga that feels modern and timeless.

 
 Image courtesy  Goodreads

Image courtesy Goodreads

My aunt visited recently and she left me Jeff Guinn’s The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple . Guinn isn’t my favorite writer, but the story is bizarre and compelling. From Indiana to Guyana, the book traces a long, sad story of socialism, religion, and mystery. I haven’t finished it yet, because it’s really long and I can’t read it at night for fear of nightmares.

 

I’ve been listening to Mitski’s new album, Be the Cowboy, her fifth to date. It dropped at the same time as Crazy Rich Asians, and I think it serves as an important foil to that narrative. Mitski’s music has always been incisive, a painful reminder like a raw wound. But Be the Cowboy is like a dressing on that wound, something that doesn’t let you forget it, but comforts you all the same.

 
  Image courtesy  kurausa.com

Image courtesy kurausa.com

I’ve been craving cheap sushi, recently. Kura, the conveyor belt sushi place up north off Airport Blvd., in Austin, is such a temptation for me, especially because the school I work at is less than 15 minutes from $2.25/plate happiness. Also, Kinokuniya Books is right next door, and it’s fun to walk around, look at the knicknacks, and dream about owning an $80 light-up constellation globe bigger than an SAT prep book.