Excerpt from Perfect Recall by Ann Beattie, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Perfect Recall

By Ann Beattie

Perfect Recall
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Dec 2000,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2002,
    224 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt



The president, it seems, is a lover of mango. He has recently sampled Lowell's preparation of baked mango gratinée -- usually served as an accompaniment to chicken or fish -- at the home of a friend, who prepared it from Lowell's newest cookbook. The president loved it, as well as the main course, which was apparently prepared out of the same cookbook. Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton has become intent upon sampling some of Lowell's newer dishes (but no chocolate chip cookies, goes through my mind) and wonders if they might recruit Lowell to cook for them during an upcoming weekend at a friend's borrowed home in Boca Raton. Mrs. Clinton will call herself, to confer about the menu, which would be for ten people -- three of them teenage girls -- whenever it is convenient.

I cover the receiver with my hand and whisper: "When can you talk to Hillary?"

Kathryn, from the back deck, maintains this is all a prank.

"Any time," Lowell whispers back.

"Would Mrs. Clinton be able to talk to Mr. Cartwright now?"

"Probably she would right after the Kennedy Center performance," George Stephanopoulos says. "Give me five minutes. Let me get back to you on that."

The phone doesn't ring for an hour. By the time it does ring, the kitten is upright and spunky, chasing after Key limes rolled across the kitchen floor.

"George Stephanopoulos," the voice says. "Are you...there's a landing field in Marathon, correct?"

"Yes," I say.

"Big planes don't come in, though?"

I see the dinner slipping away. "No," I say.

"Is there a roasted pig?"

"I'm sorry, sir?"

"Not at the airport. I mean, is there a recipe for roasted pig?"

"Prepared with a cumin marinade, and served with pistachio pureed potatoes."

"The Clintons have left for an evening performance, but if it wouldn't be inconvenient, I think Mrs. Clinton would like to call when they return. It might be eleven, ten-thirty, or eleven -- something like that."

"Mr. Cartwright stays up until well after midnight."

"I'll bet I'm interrupting your dinner right now. Tell me the truth."

"No. Actually, we've been watching what has turned out to be an incredible sunset and we've been waiting for your call."

"Sunset," Stephanopoulos says, with real longing in his voice. "Okay," he says. "Speak to you later."

"This is amazing," the highlighter says.

"Sting and Trudie Styler rented a house in Key West last winter," Daphne says. "Also, David Hyde Pierce, who plays Frasier's brother, took a date for dinner on Little Palm Island, and he tipped really well."

Since the moment they were introduced, Daphne and the highlighter have gotten along famously. They're sitting on the kitchen floor, rolling limes around like some variation of playing marbles, and the kitten has sprung to life and is going gonzo.

"When would the dinner be?" Lowell asks.

"They're going to call around eleven," I say. "You can ask."

"You ask," Lowell says. "I'd make a fool of myself if I had to talk to Hillary Clinton."

On the deck, Kathryn plucks a stalk of lemon grass growing from a clay pot, puts it between her two thumbs, and blows loudly. The kitten slithers under the refrigerator.

"Reminds me of certain of the doctor's patients," Daphne says, watching the kitten disappear. "You know, what really drives me crazy is that when they call, they give every last detail about their problem, as if the dentist cares whether the tooth broke because they were eating pizza or gnawing on a brick."

The kitten emerges, followed by what looks like its own kitten: a quick moving palmetto bug that disappears under the stove.

"Jesus Christ," Lowell says. "Where's the bug spray?"

Antonio, the chef from Coral Gables, calls back. He wants Lowell to know that since the president will be having lunch at his restaurant, he is not at all offended that the president wishes to dine with us. Every effort must be made, however, not to duplicate dishes. He asks, bleakly, if we have had any success in finding fresh estragon in southern Florida.

Excerpted from Perfect Recall, copyright (c) 2000 Ann Beattie. Reproduced with permission from the publisher; all rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  131Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.