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I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots Paperback – July 15, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (July 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385470126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385470124
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set primarily in a tiny Gullah-speaking village in South Carolina, Straight's elegant coming-of-age novel--a BOMC selection in cloth--is as monumental as the tall, taciturn woman whose life it traces. Selected as one of PW 's best books of 1992.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Large, silent, 14-year-old, blue - black Marietta Cook leaves tiny Gullah-speaking Pine Gardens, South Carolina to seek her uncle and her fortune in Charleston when her mother dies. Learning the rhythms of the city, working for Frank in the fish market, going home to bear twins, working on a rice plantation, returning to Charleston and raising her boys--her life unfolds. Students can experience vicariously the community, family, and friendships that form the pulse of this woman's life from 1959 to her settling into her role as grandmother, California home owner, and perhaps, future bride in 1983. Time, place, and character are all well developed. A solid recommendation for students seeking a good story and a strong female protagonist as well as for those who need a book on black history.
- Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Susan Straight was born in Riverside, California, where she still lives with her three daughters, nephew, extended family of over 200, and chickens. She has published seven novels - Aquaboogie (1990), I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots (1992), Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights (1994), The Gettin Place (1996), Highwire Moon (2001), A Million Nightingales (2006), and her latest, Take One Candle Light A Room (2010). Her short stories have been published in Zoetrope All-Story, McSweeneys, The Sun, Oxford American, O Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, and other places. Her story "The Golden Gopher," published in Los Angeles Noir, won the Edgar Award in 2007. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Harpers, The Believer, Reader's Digest, Family Circle and other magazines.

Her website is www.SusanStraight.com, featuring An American Family, with ties to ancestors from Switzerland, Africa, Canada, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California.

Customer Reviews

Just as good the second time!
R. Stein
I have read other of Straight's books and loved them, so I was excited to read this.
April J. Wilson
You will find yourself caring deeply about her life and fate.
Rick B

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on May 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Incredible book. Funny, heartbreaking, brave, fearsome.
Marietta, the protagonist, is a large, "blue-black" pregnant teenager in the Gullah speaking region of South Carolina. Big Ma (her granny) delivers her of a set of surprise twin boys (a scene that I, a midwife, found particularly engaging), and the rest of the book is Marietta's struggles to do right by her two hulking sons. Not to give the end away, but football becomes their salvation.
The daring part of the book's construction is that huge sections of dialogue are rendered in accurate Gullah dialect. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it flows beautifully and adds immeasurable richness to the reading.
Don't miss this one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Reeves on June 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
I finished this extraordinary book a few days ago and just can't let go...I actually found myself speaking in the Gullah dialect for a time,I so loved Marietta("such a feminine name for such a big old girl...makes me think of Lemon Pie...")I kept thinking the whole time I was reading that this should of been an "Oprah" choice.Susan Strait is white,which is fascinating to me...I too am white...but it seems to me she writes the black experience with so much feeling.All race issues aside,this is a womans story (a "Large Woman's"story, which I have never seen done so well) and a single mothers story...From the great title to the wonderful ending...if you read nothing else this summer...take this one along to the beach....and stop for fried catfish on the way!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have followed Susan Straight since I first read a galley (pre-pub) edition of this novel, and I think this is her best work. She is on the mark in virtually every way: characters, language, imagery...even the cover art is wonderful! In fact, the promotional poster for it is hanging over my computer as I write this. A really good novel, but a really amazing FIRST novel. Much better than anything she wrote later, in fact. It's been years since I read it now, but this is one that has stuck with me. If you're hungry for more Susan Straight after this one, try Aquaboogie, an earlier novel-in-stories.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
An absolutely incredible book that took me on a trip to South Carolina where I met a strong woman, Marietta Cook, who never moaned over her bad decisions, but made them work. I am so tired of those novels where the women continuously make bad decisions, then beat themselves up about it and never just move on to make the best out of it. Loved the language and the descriptions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book hooks you right from the beginning and never lets you go. I laughed out loud and I also cried. The writing syle of Susan Straight is extrodinary, She throws you full force into the 1950's and brings you full circle in the 1980's. The main character Marietta could easily be anyones mother or grandmother. Her sorrrows and triumphs will make the human spirit soar. I look forward to reading her next novel. This book is definitely a 5 star. You will not want to put it down!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Johnson on February 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm a lover of 1st novels and this one was pretty strong. Susan Straight has a wonderful sense of Neo-Realism and I Benn in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots displays this beautifully. Every nuance of detail is given it's due attention. Especially wonderful is Straight's grasp of the Gullah pidgeon and customs. This novel inspired an interest in me in the culture of the Gullah peoples. A majority of the story was captivating, until the relocation of the character, Marrieta, to California to be closer to her boys. This is toward the end of the book and from this point on, Straight's gripping accounts of people, conversations, and sights and smells seems to peter off somewhat. It read almost as though Straight had lost her steam toward the end of this novel and was just trying to finish it. I didn't feel as though, from the book, that Straight was trying to show that Marietta's life was starting to peter off, as the gripping nature of her novel did, and if this was Straight's intent, I feel she missed it or was just a little too rushed during the denouement. This latter part is the only thing that prevents me from rating this novel with 4 or 5 stars. I enjoyed the majority of this book so thoroughly that I intend to read at least one or two more of her novels, and I do recommend this book to others who enjoy first novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mizukan on August 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Initially, I was impressed by the fact that a white author could capture the Black voice so accurately. But as I got deeper into the book, I got over the race issue and I was simply impressed. It was a unique and fascinating story with characters so real, I could almost see and hear them. And I know that I'll be thinking of Marietta, Calvin and Nate long after I've moved onto my next read. I'm looking forward to reading more of Straight's work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "July Lady" on August 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Marietta Cook, has always wondered why she wasen't the color of her light father, instead being color of her non present father. After her mother dies Marietta leaves her small home town in South Carolina, to try to find her Uncle. She ends up meeting playboy Sinbad, and getting pregnant, returns to her hometown. Marietta gives birth to twin boys. Marietta leaves again, and is introducted to the game of football from her neighbor who watches it all the time, Marietta see's football as her twin sons way out, and a way to be respected. The two boys end up pro, and she moves with them, and have to get use to the city left. This book is so good, you want regret reading it, it's like you is there with Marietta the whole time.
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