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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2011
Utilizing information painstakingly gathered during years of coast-to-coast research, biographer Anne Zimmerman leads the reader through Fisher's formative years as an author, delving into her complex relationships with family, friends and lovers along the way. As one would expect in the biography of a beloved gastronome, Zimmerman's account often evokes the pleasures of the table--documenting everything from Fisher's simple peasant meals in Mexico to mouth-watering feasts in France.

A page-turner until the end, the book recounts Fisher's personal struggles, scandals, passions, and triumphs in a voice that is almost fond yet always candid. Fans of Fisher will delight in finding her unique, rich voice liberally sprinkled throughout, as excerpts from her private journals and published works seamlessly weave with Zimmerman's easy, flowing narrative. Fisher's numerous exploits and adventures will leave the reader often astounded yet always rooting for the woman whose unapologetic pursuit of pleasure could never be tamed.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2011
I have begun referring to MFK Fisher as the Virginia Woolf of the cucina. I intend the parallel to suggest that so much has been written and continues to be written about the life of Virginia Woolf. How much more can a body stand? Such is also the case with MFK Fisher. After exhausting her own writing, I moved on to the letters and then the writing of others about her. Then I read the Reardon bio and another Reardon edited collection entitled "A Story or a Stew." Friends told me that yet another Reardon production lies out there somewhere, but I was quite sated by all the Fisherama. So, when I read that yet another book about Fisher was set for publication, one that examined her youth, her marriage to and divorce from Al Fisher, as well as her relationship with Parrish, I could not imagine what more could be written? What more unearthed? Well, I am pleased to report that Anne Zimmerman has penned quite the engaging biography, one that moves beyond and behind the somewhat steely narrative Fisher presents to the world in her own writing. Apparently Zimmerman had access to papers others did not and from these she creates a thoughtful and thought provoking work. Now that I am moving toward the end of it, I find myself purposely putting the book aside hoping to drag out its pleasure -- what better recommendation can one offer? So whether you are a Fisher Aficionado or a newcomer, you will enjoy Zimmerman's work.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2011
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I am a huge fan of MFK Fisher and have sought out books about her life over the years because I was curoius about some things that she didn't say in her own works. However, for me, this current brief biography, An Extravagant Hunger, didn't cut the mustard, so to speak.

As I was reading this book I was trying to figure out why it wasn't working, and after I finished I realized it's because it reads like someone's college term paper. There are a ton of quotes from Fisher's works, to the point where I felt the author might as well have just lifted the relevant paragraphs directly out of her books, rather than trying to constantly paraphrase her. I am sorry to seem harsh, but it reminded me of the way I was taught to write term papers in high school - "packed with facts" (thanks, Mr. Doucette!). There's little insight by the author. It's more just a narrative, and an occasionally repetitive one, and this surprises me since the author states she had access to a lot of papers and letters of Fisher's which provided new information. It seemed to me that most of what was said in this book can be gleaned from reading Fisher's own works.

Also, in covering only "the passionate years", the book feels like it rushes at the beginning and rushes again towards to end, to sort-of cover Fisher's entire life in 236 short pages. This technique did not work well for me. Although I'm fairly familiar with her life story, I felt like the author was being lazy in only covering part of her subject's life, and that not too thoroughly.

Although well-intentioned, this one is not a keeper for me, and I recommend that readers who are interested in Fisher's work actually read her books. The Art of Eating is a wonderful book and if you're still wanting more information about Fisher's life after finishing it, try Joan Reardon's Poet of the Appetites, a better-written biography of Fisher.

Edited to add: One small fact from this book that I had not previously been aware of: MFK Fisher's first husband, Al, was a university professor at Smith College; one of his students was doomed poet Sylvia Plath. Fisher was known for having affairs with his students, but according to the author he refrained from doing so with Plath. (I think he dodged a bullet there.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2011
I confess: I had only a vague idea of who M.F.K. Fisher was until I read this book. But, now that I've read Anne Zimmerman's beautiful portrayal of her life, I'm absolutely fascinated by this amazing woman, her writings and her life. What a compelling life story! I highly recommend "An Extravagant Hunger" as Anne's detailed research, easy-to-read storytelling and lighthearted prose combine to create a fun, easy and fascinating read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
Anne Zimmerman has an eye for what is important about M.F.K. Fisher. Forget the food - one finishes this book with an appreciation for Fisher's wants and needs in her life. I loved it. BTW, downloaded the book from Kobo. Sorry, Amazon. Thanks Anne Zimmerman!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2012
As a decades-long MFK Fisher fan, I had hoped to learn something new by reading this volume. Instead, I found this to be largely a re-hash of previously published material written by MFK herself. This author's hop-scotch coverage of MFK's life results in huge holes in her story; in fact, there is more biographical information missing than included. For a more comprehensive biography on MFK, the reader can't do better than delving into Poet of the Appetites by Joan Reardon. For a more lyrical version, of course, one simply cannot do better than reading MFK's own books -- all of which were better proofread than this one.
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on January 3, 2012
I read this book after attending a reading by Anne Zimmerman at the S.F. Public Library. I was captivated by the passages that Anne read and immediately began reading the book. As I turned the pages, I experienced M.F.K Fisher come alive on the page. I loved the book for many reasons, not least of which is that it made me want to read more of her own writings and appreciate her contribution to the culinary world. I think Anne did an amazing job of integrating M.F.K's words (through her letters and journals), with her own writing. It was seamless.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to eat and appreciates great writing.
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on January 3, 2012
I met Ms Fisher a number of times, I drew her for an article in the SFChronicle, she charmed my then 10 year-old son with her re-telling of Sister Age, and I had a pretty good idea that I'd been the happy victim of a woman who knew how to do anything with a guy's affections. So reading this book spoke to me: it's no I-love-everything-about-MFK fan accounting. I liked finding out what I'd suspected, that MFK was no saint, not such a lovely lady, a bit of a phony, all that. Glad I read it.
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on January 5, 2012
What a beautiful book! Not only has Anne Zimmerman created a fascinating biographical account of M.F.K. Fisher, she has written a book that breathes new life into the life and work of a woman who shaped the future of food writing. This book will drive you to curl up on the couch and turn every page until your reach the end. Just make sure that you have snacks at the ready, for (like M.F.K. Fisher herself) Anne Zimmerman's writing will make you hungry.
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on June 13, 2012
As someone who had only a passing familiarity with MFK Fisher, I was assigned this book as part of a writing class. The book quickly turned from assignment to joy as Zimmerman's prose brought Fisher to life. A remarkable story with extraordinary writing, foodies, mid-century fans, lovers of biographies and anyone who cooks will love this book. It is also a terrific gift for the cook in your life.
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Customers who viewed this also viewed
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher by Joan Reardon (Paperback - October 12, 2005)

The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition
The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition by M. F. K. Fisher (Paperback - February 20, 2004)

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