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Cakewalk: A Memoir Hardcover – May 11, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385342985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385342988
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Novelist Moses recounts her life’s journey, planting its mileposts by the foods that have figured in her personal history. As emphasis, she provides a relevant recipe with each chapter. The foods that have meant most to her fall into the category of American comfort foods, her tastes leaning toward the decidedly simple. Traversing the country from California to Pennsylvania as a schoolgirl, she relished what was for her the novelty of McDonald’s but she at the same time was developing a taste for more exotic fare such as fried clams. Her family moved often, and her parents eventually divorced. Moses reflects on how all of this uncertainty affected her eating preferences. Landing an editorial position at Berkeley’s North Point Press, she encountered writers on the order of Kay Boyle and the estimable M. F. K. Fisher, and they helped to broaden and to ground her tastes, both literary and gustatory. --Mark Knoblauch

Review

“Kate Moses is a great and gifted storyteller, and in this very funny, smart and lyrical account of one family’s complex history, she gives us a cross between the childhood memoirs of Augusten Burroughs and a story of culinary education, such as Julie and Julia.
It’s a good thing Cakewalk is a book and not a cake, because it’ s the kind of work you just devour, great chunks at a time. Anyone interested in love, family, or baked goods will want to read and own this remarkable book–two copies, ideally, one for the kitchen and one somewhere a little more pristine, where it won’ t become coated in flour and butter as the reader tries out the many mouthwatering recipes.”—Sylvia Brownrigg, author of The Metaphysical Touch


“What we have here is no less than a collection of Proustian madeleines for the modern age. Spanning a childhood spent being uprooted from all the good places and trapped in all the lonely ones, Moses conjures up Alaska in her cookies, backwoods California in her blackberry jam and the warmth and stability of the good family life we all long for in a towering spiced pecan birthday cake.
Cooking memoirs are all the rage. What makes this one special is that this is a truly gifted writer who just happens to be as experimental and adventuresome in the kitchen as she is at the keyboard. A crazy, richly compelling tale of learning to sweeten her way through good times and bad.” —Mary Pols, author of Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made


"Although this gorgeous memoir made me laugh, made me wistful, even made me cry, the overwhelming sensation I experienced was of hunger, the kind of empty desperation that only a thick piece of coconut layer cake or a chewy fudge brownie can cure. Those cravings were the only things that could force me to put this marvelous book down. And because Kate Moses provides a complete literary and gustatory experience, within an hour or so, I had my own, (albeit less competent) versions of those delicacies to enjoy with the next chapter."—Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother


"That Kate Moses survived her past to write about it with such generosity, optimism, and affection, is a miracle; she is made of strong stuff, and her memoir attests not only to the tensile strength of her character, but to her crazy-beautiful talents as a writer."—Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment
 

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Customer Reviews

It has been many years since I have read a book all in one sitting.
Nancy McNally
Maybe she felt that by writing some of them down but only skimming over a lot of them she'd exorcise her issues.
Dux
I also liked the recipes at the ends of the chapters, a bonus of sorts.
Terri Barreras

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
`Cakewalk' contains extraordinary family stories; of Romanov treasure lost, fortunes made and gone, living with a mother who, Moses says is part Mary Poppins, part Sound of Music and part I Love Lucy. In reality Kate's upbringing by both her parents is horrendous and much of the book contains stories of her overcoming the fallout from them. There are funny stories - a natural disaster laden cross country trip; there is an apology after many years from her father and one of the most touching of all lines,"...and for four hundred miles, my father never let go of my hand".
What the book also contains are some of her recipes, many fairly involved; all sugar laden, as was most of her childhood diet, but scrumptious. Included is a brownie recipe that M.F.K. Fisher thought was delicious. There are only 33 recipes in here, so it is not a cookbook, instead it is a formula of how. How do we survive our childhood?
Kate Moses is one of those rare authors, that as you near the end of reading her book, you think, "I've got to look up other things by her and read them". That's accolade enough to read this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zedzebra on March 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I would have gladly read this book from cover to cover in one sitting if I didn't have any other obligations; as it was I kept sneaking over to read it a chapter at a time when I couldn't sit down for a long spell with it. I loved the author's stories from her childhood and teen years, no doubt because it really resonated with me as I was similarly a dork (as the author calls herself). A girl who makes it her teen ambition to embroider all the breeds recognized by the AKC on her jeans? Brilliant. Too bad she threw them away!

The other half of the story is darker--the relationship between Mom, Dad, and the family--and the author tenderly, carefully untangles it as best she can over the course of her life.

The only part that bogged down for me was close to the end, where there is a lull while we meet famous authors and chefs etc., but when we return to the family the intensity and emotion return and the book gallops along again. The author's reflections on death and grief truly hit home for me.

I am so glad I found this book, which I think I saw mentioned in passing in a larger article about good reads in a magazine. Serendipity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JBrokaw on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Kate Moses is a child of the 70s, with all its inherent consequences. Reading her memoir will strike a familiar chord for many who grew up in the era. Having survived some epically bad parenting by learning to bake and write, Kate has given back the many kindnesses she encountered by sharing her best recipes. Reading her lyrical remembrances makes one realize that the flavors of your memories should be catalogued with the sweet rather than the bitter. This book is a real treat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terri Barreras on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved this memoir. I found it touching and bittersweet in the telling of a childhood. It is brutally honest and although sometimes heartbreaking, it is also inspirational. I also liked the recipes at the ends of the chapters, a bonus of sorts. Sometimes memoirs seem to go on too long, but this is one I did not want to end. A very enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mena on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Kate Moses is a gifted writer. She crosses paths with so many of my own memories as I grew up in the same time and place. The funny thing is the same could be said for the dozen or so other locales her parents raised her in. Her memoir catches the spirit of the 1960s from San Francisco to Washington, DC. I can't believe any other household was as full of sweets as my own. There is a very good tale of her mother trying to steal a towel out of Pat Nixon's White House powder room.

I would love to read more from this author. Perhaps she could write a novel on the Romanov treasures that she claims her family burned at a San Francisco dump?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donna J. Streetenberger on June 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Smart, funny, and refreshingly honest, Kate Moses writes from the heart. She reminds us that no matter how screwed up our families may be, we all deserve to be happy. Much of her satisfaction comes through cooking, so the recipes she includes at the end of every chapter are just the icing on the cake. This was a book I couldn't put down. Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dux on June 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Disappointing.

She starts her story off as a colorful romp with an equally colorful mother and a more staid father, but there is precious little adult-insight (and the author is presently a middle-aged woman who is clearly a navel-gazer ...).

So we move across the country with her and nothing she described felt that interesting, unique; it certainly was never elucidating in why she (or her publisher) find her life story interesting enough to share with others rather than a diary or blog.

Most of us luckily live rather middle-of-the-road lives, even with the highs and lows. What makes reading someone's life story compelling is the exploration and honesty of all of those, so-so to extremes, both of which were missing here.

It felt incredibly self-indulgent and it left me thinking she needs to see her therapist more often. I know that sounds snotty and I don't mean it that way: she has issues. Maybe she felt that by writing some of them down but only skimming over a lot of them she'd exorcise her issues. But she was neither thorough nor honest, and a good therapist will push her to do those. Also, I resent being asked to pay for her working out her issues when I don't get a fascinating insight along the way.

Now, the two stars is because I liked the recipes, and I've used her chocolate chip cookie recipe as a terrific starting-off point for my own adaptation. They are **delicious**!
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