Edible Stories: A Novel in 16 Parts

Mark Kurlansky, Riverhead, $16 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-59448-488-9
Kurlansky (Salt) moves from his acclaimed nonfiction to a linked collection of spotty-quality fiction. Food is the unifying theme, but in the least successful efforts—"Crème Brulee," "Espresso," "Boudin," and "Hot Pot"—the foodstuffs are smothered by weak characters that are conveyed with less skill than the often lyrical passages devoted to the victuals. In the better pieces, the sensory and cultural anchors that food provide are gorgeously explored, as in "Osetra," which charts the gustatory awakening of a Puerto Rican shoplifter, and "Menudo" in which a stolid and driven U.S. senator bridges a cultural divide with unexpected tenderness. In a contrarian vein, the sludgy salmon brew of "The Soup" reinforces the gap between the last speaker of an Alaskan native language and the inept but earnest anthropologist trying to prevent the language from dying out. "Red Sea Salt," "Orangina," and "Cholent," meanwhile, introduce equal measures of comic ridiculousness and sly wit to varying degrees of satisfaction. While certainly lighter than Kurlansky's engrossing nonfiction, this remains a mostly successful consideration of the role food plays in life. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-101-49464-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-906142-87-2
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-101-49466-0
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