Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman *****

Did you ever wonder if winning the lottery would change you? In the late 20th century, literally 1000s of folks in Silicon Valley and other high-tech centers won the IPO lottery and many of them felt like the characters in The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman.

The strangely titled book follows two sisters: the all-business high-tech CEO/entrepreneur and the save-the-trees philosophy grad student at UC Berkeley. As one who purchased several of those expensive lottery tickets, I found the story realistic and insightful. The hope before the IPO, the euphoria of the IPO - especially how the success is internalized - and finally how the random gyrations of the stock market subtly replace all other human circadian rhythms.

This is a novel in the model of the 19th century. While the jacket alludes to Austen, I felt the way the diverse characters came together at the end was more reminiscent of Dickens.
Rain at last. Much-needed rain, the weatherman called it. Rain drummed the little houses skyrocketing in value in Cupertino and Sunnyvale.
If you remember the world behind this opening sentence, you'll love the book. If not ... "You had to be there."

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