Happily, In the Garden of Beasts has risen to the top, and nearly the top, of best-seller lists around the country, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The book also made the best summer reads list of Oprah’s O Magazine.

Meanwhile, Erik has again become lost in what his publicist and friend Penny Simon refers to as “the dark country of no ideas.” Idea hunting is hard for the poor boy. It makes him cranky and sullen. In these times his family seeks solace in uplifting television shows like America’s Next Top Model and What Not to Wear. Erik suffers, and when he suffers he likes everyone else to suffer.

To make matters worse he is trying to lose ten pounds, though he will forever be stymied in this quest until he acknowledges the reality that Double-Stuff Oreo Cookies really do have calories and that he cannot have second helpings of every meal he cooks. His argument there, by the way, is that because he’s the chef, he has to keep sampling the dishes he makes in order to monitor changes in taste as they cool. He has raised delusion to the level of art.