cover image Revelation at the Food Bank

Revelation at the Food Bank

Merrill Joan Gerber. Sagging Meniscus, $21.95 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-952386-70-1

Novelist Gerber (Beauty and the Breast) brings together intimate personal essays in this stirring compendium. The hilarious title essay weaves an account of how Gerber found unexpected community at a church’s food pantry (“They give me gifts, they welcome me.... I’m a Jewish girl, but I’ve never known the rewards of religion. Is it too late?”) with reflections on the small annoyances that accumulated over her 62-year marriage (“Why does he put so much cream cheese on his bagel?”). Several pieces investigate how grief ripples through families, including “My Suicides,” which discusses how Gerber’s relatives coped with the suicides of her cousin and her abusive brother-in-law, and “The Lost Airman,” which delves into her grandmother’s struggle to accept the death of another of Gerber’s cousins, who was “shot down by Japanese Zeros over New Guinea” during WWII. Gerber is a witty and astute observer with a keen eye for detail (“As I sat there facing three lanes of oncoming traffic, as I waited numbly for a Highway Patrol Officer to reach me, I gathered up some little glittering pieces of my windshield and put them in my pocket for a souvenir,” she writes of the aftermath of a highway car crash). Elevated by Gerber’s wry voice and crystalline prose, this impresses. (Dec.)