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Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts by…
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Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts

by Mark Kurlansky

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  1. 00
    Fried Butter by Abe Opincar (sgump)
    sgump: A collection of interlinked chapters that may be part fiction, even though the book's described as a "food memoir." The author has lived in Japan, Israel, Turkey, and France (and these locations appear in his stores); but many of the contemporary pieces are set in Southern California. (Chapters 12 through 15 were particularly memorable to me.)… (more)
  2. 00
    Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love by Lara Vapnyar (sgump)
    sgump: Also short fiction + food--but Vapnyar concludes with a handful of recipes (related to those that appear in the stories).
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Scents and food, for some people, trigger memories, both good and bad. Here are 16 stories where people, their interaction through food and with others, are chronicled. A woman stops eating because she stops trusting those who prepare the foods,believing creme brulee to be toxic, a man finds himself standing with one leg in a hole in the sidewalk, with amnesia, no sense of smell or taste, a woman gradually becomes a vegan and serves tofurkey at Thanksgiving to her family, a man, known for delicious andouille sausages becomes the target of vicious rumors because he appeared bloody after emerging from the bayou, are among some of the stories shared.

These 16 short stories could stand on their own, but as you read through, you realize that some characters circle back through other stories, and that this could also be read as a novel in 16 parts. ( )
  cameling | Dec 23, 2012 |
Mark Kurlansky's "Edible Stories" is a collection of short stories that individually stand by themselves as enjoyable tales, yet collectively weave into a narrative whole. However, the narrative whole is not without holes--a number of which are stretched almost too far. The recurrence of characters and food stuffs were usually obvious, but a few times I found myself flipping back to previous stories to confirm details--minor characters or passing ingredients--that I'd dismissed. That said, I enjoyed when I correctly predicted that a character or food stuff or event would be revisited in the future. My biggest criticism of the book is that the final story was so far-fetched that, while it included characters and food stuffs that closed the loop from beginning to end, significantly curbed my enthusiasm for the collection. But Kurlansky's writing draws you in, and he gets you to emotionally connect with his characters, which are marks of a good book. Recommended, especially if you like fictional food writing, because the food is what really carries the stories. ( )
  grkmwk | May 1, 2012 |
Each of the sixteen loosely related stories in this collection features food as a common thread. Some, foods such as creme brûlée, muffins, and espresso would see to be familiar and comforting. Others, such as menudo and cholent are less familiar. But these are not familiar and comforting stories. Each has an unexpected and sometimes unsettling twist. A man who suddenly loses his memory, between one step and the next. A dysfunctional family faces a deflating tofurkey at a dismal Thanksgiving dinner. A petty shoplifter gets hooked on caviar. An orange drink becomes key in a political contest. Food is iconic and intimate. In these stories we get a glimpse of how it links people to their roots, whether Jewish or cajun. We also see how food can mark the outsider such as the anthropologist who wants to make inroads with the last speaker of a dying language but can't stomach the Soup which includes fish eyes. Those in these stories who cannot decipher the message and meaning embodied in the food they encounter are also not able to decipher the meaning and message in the life in which they are adrift. ( )
  Course8 | Mar 22, 2012 |
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Epigraph
You see, it's sometimes a good thing for a man to take himself by the scruff of the neck and pull himself up, like a radish out of its bed... -- Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
Dedication
To Marian, who loves her bulots, Talia with her fresh grilled sardines, and Tallulah and her chicken and rice
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What could explain it, as he half stood, his left knee planted on the sidewalk, head turned down away from the rain, looking at the wet, dark, sparkling pavement, the leaves like soggy cornflakes, his right foot in the hole?
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(from the book jacket)In these stories, Mark Kurlansky reveals the bond that can hold people together, tear them apart, or make them become vegan: food. Through muffins or hot dogs, an indiggenous Alaskan soup, a bean curd Thanksgiving turkey, or potentially toxic creme brulee, a rotating cast of characters learns how to honor the past, how to realize you're not in love with someone anymore, and how to forgive. These woman and men meet and eat, love and leave, drink and talk, and, in the end, come together as they are as inextricably linked with each other as they are with the food they eat and the wine they drink.
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Mark Kurlansky reveals the bond that can hold people together, tear them apart, or make them become vegan: food.

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