The Traveling Feast: On the Road and at The Table with My Heroes

Rick Bass. Little, Brown, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-38123-9
In this exuberant literary road trip, Bass (For a Little While) takes on the roll of a roving wordsmith caterer, traveling the country to visit the writers who have inspired him and thanking them by preparing them home-cooked meals: “The least I could do was feed them in return.” Over the course of three years, Bass—with writing student mentees in tow—showed up at the doors of Peter Matthiessen, John Berger, and Barry Lopez, among others. The conversation inevitably flowed through a series of wonderful, sincere encounters, as with Matthiessen, battling leukemia, with whom Bass and aspiring writer Erin discussed the differences between writing fiction and nonfiction “while eating a soup of fresh-dug parsnips (tarragon, butter, garlic, vermouth).” Bass ruminates on what makes good writing and great writers (“how hard it is to keep that edge. To view the world always like a hawk”) while obsessing over his multicourse gourmet feasts with nearly the same devotion to detail (“The kitchen is a whirlwind of aromas: mussels, scallops, and a sharp bite of ginger” in a paella that he prepared for Lorrie Moore). The camaraderie of like-minded literary folk is infectious, and Bass’s account of hauling the meat of an elk he had shot in Montana—now thawing and bleeding through its packaging—through Heathrow airport to David Sedaris’s quaint British cottage is a miniature classic. This is a rich bounty of a book. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/07/2018
Release date: 06/05/2018
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