CONNIE MARTINSON Talks Books – The Map Of Lost Memories
It is 1925 Shanghai and Irene Blum has arrived to heal her wounds from having been passed over by Seattle’s Brooke Museum as curator, because she is a woman. This is Kim Fay’s opening for The Map Of Lost Memories (Ballentine Books $26).
Irene was brought up living in a cottage on the museum grounds, when she quits in a fury–also quitting her life connected with the museum. As she is cleaning out her grandfather’s trunks, she finds a map which will lead to the set of copper scrolls that chronicle the lost history of Cambodia’s Khmer civilization. In Shanghai, Irene joins a bi-polar Simone Merlin who delights in robbing temples as well as by Louis and Clothilde who know this world of Cambodia.
Behind the scenes as a puppet master is rich, old Henry Simms who was Irene’s grandfather’s closest friend and her sponsor for this venture. Along with the personalities and the sense of place in the 1920s, there is the race to find the scrolls and stay alive.
Kim Fay told me much of the book is based on her life in Asia. In her travels there, she had written Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam (ThingsAsian Press $19.95). Kim had lived in Vietnam for four years in the 1990s but this book is based on a five-week tour through Vietnam in which she and her sister, Julie Fay Ashborn, together ate everything and took pictures of it. Vietnamese food for me, combines the best of Chinese and French cooking–or to quote the title of one chapter “Dining Is Living:” ”There are no specific recipes just the memories of their tastes to awaken one’s salivary glands.” Along with Kim and Julie was their friend, Nguyen thi Lan Huong, a producer and partner in a film company. When Julie was sick, it was Nguyen who joined Kim in seeking out the famous clam rice. I did note to Kim that when we were in Hanoi, I was shocked at the poverty of people sleeping in the street of a Communist country.
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