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Ntozake Shange’s latest book, If I Can Cook/You Know God Can, made me want to go out and buy some collard greens at 10:00 at night. Reason got hold of my senses, but I’m sure that by week’s end something well-seasoned and African in origin will be cooking on my stove. Her descriptions of Brazil, Brixton, Trinidad, and Barbados provoked a deep-seated longing to leave the city—not just for a weekend in New York—for somewhere with good music, fresh fish, and ocean air. In a recipe for Brazilian rice, she advises cooks to “stir gently with a wood spoon until the mixture has a whirring sound like a woman’s many skirts.” This is a cookbook for people who know how to cook, or who have no intention of cooking but like sitting in someone else’s kitchen when there’s cooking going on. Shange speaks in mestizo tongues, tells stories, quotes poetry, waxes poetic about the fact of blackness and the world at large. Shange reads at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 429-9272. (Holly Bass)