Kathleen Flinn

I thought I’d reached the limit of my patience with memoirs filed under “The year I escaped from the rat race to rediscover who I was and what I really wanted out of life” (see Under the Tuscan Sun and the ridiculously popular Eat, Pray, Love). But Seattle native Kathleen Flinn’s account of her term at Paris’ prestigious Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, The Sharper Your Life, the Less You Cry (Penguin, $15), proves there’s always room for a new angle on a tired genre. New in paperback, the book starts out with typical plot points: Flinn comes home from vacation to find her corporate job has been eliminated; instead of seeking a new cubicle, she decides to pursue her lifelong dream of studying culinary arts; and, oh yes, love may be found in the kitchen. But unlike in so many other personal histories these days, Flinn’s decision to study abroad doesn’t seem to have been made with a book deal in mind. Her portrayal of the famous school, along with her frustrations with French cuisine, are sharp and incisive. And even if you miss her reading tonight, her book is garnished with recipes that can be prepared without a passport. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., 366-3333, www.thirdplacebooks.com. Free. 7 p.m. ANNA ROTH

Tue., Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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