Eating Authors: Brenda Clough

No Comments » Written on May 28th, 2012 by
Categories: Plugs
Brenda Clough

Memorial Day (as it’s celebrated in the US) can be a rough Monday for pros and fans alike, following as it does the single most popular convention weekend. If you’re one of those people squinting at the morning light, wandering if you’ve managed to escape the latest bout of concrud, or are just simply awash in the memories of a well-spent convention weekend, then relax, this will be pretty painless.

Joining us today is a veteran of many such conventions, Brenda Clough, whose newest novel, Speak to Our Desires, part SF, part murder mystery, is being released through Book View Café (where you can find a weekly blog post from her), as well as the usual ebook sources.

One of the most interesting things I can tell you about Brenda is that she set her children’s novel, An Impossible Summer in the very same forest-edged cottage in which she currently lives. Oh yeah, and she received both the Hugo and Nebula Award nominations for her novella “May be Some Time,” which later became the novel Revise the World.

LMS: Welcome Brenda, thanks for being here on a groggy Memorial Day. So tell me, what’s your most memorable meal?

BC: I have traveled a lot, and have had some notable dining experiences. In the Forbidden City we had a meal based on the Chinese dishes served to the imperial court. I have eaten in the restaurant in the middle of the ruins at Pompeii, and the one at the top of the Lorelei’s cliff on the Rhine.

However, the most interesting one was in Naples, when I was there with my husband 35 years ago. We had seen the National Museum and were wandering through the town. At the time Naples was notoriously sketchy, and neither of us look like Italians. Policemen would cross the street and anxiously warn us to hang onto our wallets. So I was a little bit wary when a guy in an alley gestured frantically for us to come closer. He was standing in the doorway of his restaurant, La Cucina. We were hungry, so took a risk and we went in.

It was a small and rather shabby establishment, and there were no menus. Food simply appeared; when we asked what it was the waiter cried, “Eat! eat!” I think that was all the English he knew. And it was delicious! Fried squash blossoms, veal, all kinds of yummies. After all this time the details slip my mind, but it was great.

Speak to Our Desires
Revise the World
How Like a God

The only other person in the restaurant was an American sailor — the USS Nimitz was in port. As we were eating a pair of MPs came in and announced that La Cucina was beyond the allowable boundaries of the port. The sailor said he would pay and come back, so the MPs left him to it. Then it turned out that he didn’t have enough lira to pay the bill. Much multi-lingual miscommunication went on, but you can’t get blood from a stone. The unhappy restauranteur had to take the hit. All we could do was to overtip them heavily, to compensate.

I have always wanted to go back to that restaurant, but I haven’t been able to make another trip to Naples.

Thank you, Brenda. Surely there’s some moral to be drawn here about Italian restaurants and American sailors, but I’m not going to be the one to make it.

Next Monday: I ask the first of this year’s Campbell Nominees about her most memorable meals and another meal. Two years in a row makes this an Eating Authors tradition. Don’t miss it!


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