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Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times Hardcover – November 17, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (November 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393067637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393067637
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Editor and food writer Hesser (Cooking for Mr. Latte) selects 26 essays that originally appeared in the New York Times Magazine to conjure up foreign places and familiar people through tastes and smells. While some of the essays follow a classic Proustian remembrance—a pungent clove of garlic evokes Gary Shteyngart's escape from the bland boiled dinners of his parents' home in Little Neck, Queens, N.Y., and dizzying orange blossom oil stirs up embarrassing moments from Henry Alford's trip to Morocco—the collection's wide-ranging essays also include less conventional descriptions of meals, such as Ann Patchett's elusive word game with her future husband in the Paris restaurant Taillevent, where the conversation is memorable but the sole and a sublime dessert escape her recollection. Empty Tang bottles become a powerful signifier in Yiyun Li's China, and the sound of crashing pots and pans invites a memorable excursion with John Burnham Schwartz and his expat friends in Paris. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton's faces a profound test of patience with a blind line cook emptying French fries into the drain, while George Saunders offers a hilarious and hyperbolic recipe for air. Illus. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Food evokes memories, as Proust famously observed, and this collection of essays that appeared originally among the pages of the New York Times gives readers a grand buffet of viewpoints on how foods have influenced the course of writers’ lives in both great and small ways. Ann Patchett tells about an argument with a boyfriend that ruined what should have been a perfect, Lucullan repast in one of Paris’ most esteemed restaurants. Heidi Julavits recalls a sojourn in Japan where a delicious but unvarying diet of Japanese cuisine left her hungering for American-style sweets. Newsman Tucker Carlson professes his love for baked beans. Gary Shteyngart raises a paean to garlic as served profligately at a beloved Greenwich Village restaurant. Most of these essays have recipes appended so that readers whose own memories have been stirred by the printed word can produce the dishes they’ve just read about. --Mark Knoblauch

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found the concept of this collection intriguing: "Writers know that if you want to portray a person succinctly, tellingly, you describe the way he eats." Or so opines editor Amanda Hesser, author and food writer for the New York Times Magazine since 2004, who has assembled "food inspired recollections" of America's leading writers, the best essays from the magazine's "Eat, Memory" column. The submissions are from twenty-six novelists, playwrights, poets, screenwriters and others who have bridged that vast emotional territory of food, experience and the creative process. The result is a series of essays that explore food and memory in related, emotionally-charged chapters: "Illusions", "Discovery", "Struggles", "loss" and "Coming Home".

The combinations are infinite, the connections of food and memory profound, at least in the words of the authors in this unique book: Dorothy Allison, Chang-Rae Lee, Billy Collins, Yiyun Li, Patricia Marx, Tucker Carlson, Kiran Desai, Pico Iyer, Manil Suri, Allan Shawn. Like recipes, these essays are deeply personal, filled with the ebb and flow of emotional nuance and the way memory inserts itself into life and writing in the most intimate manner. Like any complexity, food is loaded with emotion, smell evoking a stream of long-buried associations, sometimes comforting, occasionally painful. By sharing their recollections with readers, we have an opportunity to open our imaginations and embrace these experiences, to add them to the words that form the stories of our society, human connections that seek to include rather than isolate.

In "Expatriate Games" (Loss), John Burnham Schwartz writes of Sunday dinners that became a weekly ritual: "Between feasts and sometimes during- life-altering decisions were made, hearts broken, songs badly sung.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John S. on July 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everyone eats and this collection looks at the eating habits of writers-what and where and the memories eating evokes. This was a great collection and a fun read.
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8 of 22 people found the following review helpful By LetterPress on August 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An interesting collection of essays about mealtimes, dinnertimes, snacktimes, food everything. I admit to not giving it full star rating for one thing only (I'm biased, so here it is): I wanted to use these essays in my classroom (I teach Freshman Comp) for one of their assignment in writing about their family. I found I couldn't use any of them because the point of view in these wanders from first to second to third person--very frustrating, esp. since I teach them formal essay writing. Because of this, none of them were usable. Whatever happened to the formal voice? Okay, rant over.

You may enjoy them for their details, the spirit of good living they provide. Just don't use them in the classroom!
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