Better Food for a Better World

Erin McGraw. Wipf and Stock/Slant, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62032-668-8

The debut novel of a new literary fiction imprint relates the tale of three couples who start an ice cream shop in northern California to make the world a better place through their socially aware business. (The napkins bear mottoes like "Our goal is not gold.") One of the six partners, Vivy Jilet, is restless, and resurrects the old business she and her husband Sam formerly had, booking countercultural performers. Vivy's is not the only decision that shakes up the working relationships the couples have forged. McGraw (The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard) has a light hand with serious themes involving relationships and livelihood. She is deft with humor; her satire of green, aware living is funny without being snarky and is tempered by a generosity toward human foibles. Her characters are memorable, recognizable, quirky; the overweight contortionist Teeny Marteeny is a gem. McGraw is fresh and funny. (Mar.)