Bookwormishness · Foodstuffs

Arms Dealers and Magical Pizza

I wish I had taken a picture of this pizza to share with you, but it honestly did not look as amazing as it tasted.  But more about that in a minute.

Credit: Goodreads.com

Last night was my monthly book club meeting.  We have a pretty good group of 6 to 7 regulars, and a varying cast to round out the other 6 to 10 people who seem to be showing up lately.  Last night’s book discussion was on The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie.  Yes, that Hugh Laurie.  But he wrote this book way back in 1995, so long before House was probably even conceived of.  Funny side note: the back of my copy of the book had a really short interview with Laurie in which he talks about how he’s already working on a screenplay of the novel, that an American film studio has asked him to do this (and did I just miss this movie or did it never make it out of the production jungle that is Hollywood?).  The interviewer then asks if Laurie would want to play a role in the movie if he got a chance, and his answer is basically that he’d be happy to play a small walk-on part if needed, but he was nowhere near a big enough star to warrant a significant role in an American film.  Ha!  What a difference 15 years makes….

The synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads:

British actor and comedian Hugh Laurie’s first book is a spot-on spy spoof about hapless ex-soldier Thomas Lang, who is drawn unwittingly and unwillingly into the center of a dangerous James Bond-like plot of international terrorists, arms dealing, high-tech weapons, and CIA spooks. You may recall having seen Laurie in the English television series Jeeves and Wooster; Laurie played Bertie Wooster, the clutzy hero of the P.G. Wodehouse comic novels that originated those characters. The lineage from Wodehouse’s Wooster to Laurie’s Lang is clear, and, if you like Wodehouse, you’ll probably love The Gun Seller.

If you’re a Laurie fan, you will very much appreciate the sarcasm and wry humor throughout the novel, and the nonchalant-outside, righteous-softie-inside persona of the main character.  There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot, too, plenty to satisfy any fan of the international thriller genre.  Once I got about 80 pages in, I had a hard time putting it down – it was a fast, fun read.  It took me a while to get into it, though.  I didn’t hate the beginning or anything – I was definitely interested enough to keep reading – but I wasn’t convinced of why I really cared what was happening in the story until about 80 pages in.  My overall impression is that it was a good time, with a lot of details that could be confusing or missed completely on a first read.  There’s definitely some commentary on the causes of war and the motivations of giant corporations and governments to aid and abet those wars.  That’s about as deep as it gets, but I don’t know that I really want a fast-paced thriller than goes much deeper than that.  My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Now.  The pizza.  We went to Tip Top in Charlottesville, which has no website that I can find, but I’ve linked to their Yelp! page.  I’ve been to Tip Top many times before – it’s close to both my office and my home, they’re fast and cheap and have good food.  They specialize in Greek/Italian diner food, but they have the traditional American favorites too, along with a huge breakfast menu.  They’re well-known for their gyros and souvlaki and parmigiana subs…and their pizza.  But I’d never had their pizza before, so I decided to try the small 10″ size of one of their specialty pizzas, the Moussaka.  Oh.  My.  Lord.  Thin, but not cracker-thin, hand-tossed crust.  Homemade tomato sauce base.  Pieces of homemade meatball.  Feta cheese.  Slivers of fried eggplant.  Topped with fresh mozzarella.  I am telling you, it was MAGIC.

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