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Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseball Paperback – April 23, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former columnist for the New York Times and author of The New York Cookbook, O'Neill de-emphasizes the cooking element here in favor of cozy family gatherings around baseball games. Her memoir begins even before the courtship of her parents, minor leaguer "Chick" O'Neill and six-foot, convent-educated "Bootsie" Gwinn, in Columbus, Ohio, in 1945, and extends to younger brother Paul O'Neill's retirement as right-fielder for the Yankees in 2001. O'Neill meanders lovingly through years growing up as the eldest to five brothers who channeled their adolescent hormones into Little League. O'Neill records her first forays into cooking inspired by an Ohio Power and Electric Co. demonstration given for her Brownie troop; her brothers worshipped her for making dishes from Spam and processed cheese. In college, she secured jobs as a cook and took over the kitchen at Ciro's in Boston by 1979. Her cooking segued into writing, first for the Globe, then New York Newsday. By the time she became a restaurant critic for the Times in the early 1990s, younger brother Paul had been traded to the Yankees, bringing the whole unwieldy family to feast in New York. O'Neill charts a long-winded, pleasantly nostalgic trip. B&w photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Former New York Yankee outfielder Paul O'Neill's big sister is definitely a writer: this reads like shards of family stories, each one burnished to a deep shine of memory and longing. It's not a family bio, exactly; although she writes of her parents and five younger brothers, each looms large and fades. She writes about being female and tall in her childhood home in Ohio; about what made her parents who they were; about each of the boys, especially golden-haired baby Paulie. She writes, with offhand elegance and bone-deep humor, about the food of the Midwest, her mother's food, and the food she learned to cook later, in Provincetown and in Paris. Although it starts rather dreamily and slowly, the book's final chapters, chronicling more recent times--with her as the food writer for the New York Times and Paul as the baseball warrior for the New York Yankees--are like listening to a friend you want to know better reminisce about her incredibly engaging and engaged life. Anyone interested in any of the words of the subtitle will find much to enjoy. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743232690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743232692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,662,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By olingerstories on September 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone who grew up around Columbus, OH in the 60s and 70s, Molly O'Neill's MOSTLY TRUE is a must read. It is the story of surviving four brothers, including the future Red and Yankee Paul, who were sports obsessed. Molly endures little league baseball games, the lack of a social life, and the sameness of growing up in the most middle America of towns, Columbus.

In college at Denison, she mirrors the mood of the time. She swings, but
realizes that she also has to eat. The talent that she has is what her mother taught her about cooking. What seemed so boring in her youth now was a talent recognizable to all.

After graduation she heads east and enters into a start-up restaurant. She makes mistakes, learns how hard it is to make a go of it in the restaurant world and eventually ends up in New York. Here her fame arrives at she becomes a famed food critic.

Still, the glue to the whole narrative is her and her family,including her famous little brother, Paul. I absolutely loved this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Diane VINE VOICE on April 3, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Molly is the oldest O'Neill child, followed in succession by five boys in the 1950s and 1960s. They grew up in Columbus, Ohio, a close-knit crew, and much of their lives revolved around baseball (like mine growing up). Her dad loved baseball and encouraged his sons to play the game; youngest son Paul grew up to play for the legendary New York Yankees (and before that, the Cincinnati Reds, a team close enough to home for his parents to watch him play often).

Anyone from a big family will relate to Molly's memories of growing up in a big family. Molly's attitude towards food came from her parents, who had a different idea than many people at that time. Columbus was (and still is) the test-market capital for food products. Grocery stores were filled with product samplers, while ubiquitous today, were not found in may places in the Unites States back then.

The O'Neill's, however, did not serve their children pot pies or macaroni and cheese or tuna noodle casserole or even meat loaf. Her parents "practiced a separation of food groups. We had meat. We had potato. We had vegetable. We had salad. We had dessert.. Each was distinct and none was overcooked. It was humiliating."

Molly first became interested in cooking when she was trying to lose weight. She joined a weight loss support group because her brother mercilessly teased her about having unidentifiable kneecaps. There, a woman gave her a cookbook and Molly started cooking for herself because her mother would not make a separate meal for her. Soon Molly ditched the low calorie cooking and moved on to making recipes out of Julia Child for her grateful family.

She went to college in Massachusetts, became a feminist, wrote poetry and helped to start a feminist, humanist, vegetarian restaurant.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Pierulla on August 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Born in Columbus, raised with baseball, and just returning from my first trip to Paris. Could I have found a work more timely?

Sometimes you find excellent reads in the most unexpected places; a semi-cook book for crying out loud and one I purchased for my Columbus cousins no less.

Thumbing through the first few pages I was trapped in a presentation of butterfly proportions. Yea her brother Paul played in four World Series with the Yankees and one with the Reds but he really doesn't enter until the last fifty pages.

So I began by thinking where is Paul, after a while it didn't matter because Molly's writing is a homer all by itself and better yet I get to watch Paul come on the scene along with his brothers,family and Columbus.

Only having lived in the capital of Ohio my first year and visiting several times in my youth, my memories of it were foggy and quaint, however, growing up with the O'Neills those youthful day all came roaring back in vivid colors and the sweet vibrations of a pre-teen.

Beyond this traveling to the Cape, the City, and Paris was extra, her rebellions (with unexpected revelations) lent zest to the journey. Indeed Philip Roth has nothing on this lady, if fact when reading this the references to her cousin, Mark Twain, were thought only to be in jest, later in reading a review I found that she is really Mr. Clement's cousin. I then realized why _Life on the Mississippi_ kept flashing through my mind while I enjoyed the work. Molly can describe a situation and you honestly feel you are right there with her.

Ok Paul you are the "ultimate warrior," but I really think Molly's way of presenting a story is a lot more fun than watching a pitcher constantly throw over to first to hold you on base.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on August 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There seems to be a fashion in biographies to find people who had horrible lives: dysfunctional families, wicked stepmothers, financially destitute, etc., etc.

It's nice to read one that's not that way. A family that got along well then and still gets along. Why then bother to read it if nothing happens? Because it's written so well, there is humor, a great deal of humor -- there are stories of false teeth that look like fangs, wearing her first short skirt with four brothers teasing her about her kneecaps, and of course when she was pregnant....

And would you believe, just because it's in the title, there's a lot of baseball. Her father had played in the minor leagues. Her younger brother Pat played for the Yankees. So it's a story of baseball.

She was a writer for the New York Times and others, so she clearly knows how to write. That's what keeps the book so interesting.

Highly recommended.
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