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Dubious Honors Paperback – April 1, 1990
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"Despite its self-effacing title, Dubious Honors shows one of America's finest and most esteemed writers about food at her reliable best. This is a beguiling collection.... Dubious Honors cuts yet another sparkling facet in the gemlike prose of M.F.K. Fisher's lustrous career." -- New York Times Book Review
"Dubious Honors provides devotees with new stories and fond memories, newcomers with an introduction to this remarkable writer's oeuvre." -- The Baltimore Sun
"Fisher's essence is love of food and love of other lovers of food, and that comes through clearly and delightfully." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"M.F.K. Fisher ... brings onstage a peach or a brace of quail and shows us history, cities, fantasies, memories, emotions." -- Patricia Storace, The New York Review of Books
"M.F.K. Fisher is our greatest food writer because she puts food in the mount, the mind and the imagination all at the same time. Beyond the gastronomical bravura, she is a passionate woman; food is her metaphor." -- Shana Alexander
"Mrs. Fisher speaks her mind, and never stops applying high standards of judgment to the books she is ostensibly recommending." -- Wall Street Journal
"Poet of the appetites." -- John Updike
"She writes about fleeting tastes and feasts vividly, excitingly, sensuously, exquisitely. There is almost a wicked thrill in following her uninhibited track through the glories of the good life." -- James Beard
"She writes about food as others do about love, but rather better." -- Clifton Fadiman
About the Author
M.F.K. Fisher was born in Albion, Michigan, on July 3, 1908. She is the author of numerous books, many of which have become American classics. She died in 1992.
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I have been on close terms with a large number of various types of celebrities, (some small-time, some renowned worldwide), over the course of my lifetime and there is something about most of them, however "nice" they might be, that is purely superficial (one major exception I know of to this rule is the great Harry Carey, Jr., a VERY nice and genuine man). My point in saying this is that, having now read "Dubious Honors," I did not leave the work with a warm and fuzzy feeling about M.F.K. Fisher.
The reader will discover that most of the entries are "nostalgic" and more about M.F.K. Fisher than the book which she was introducing. She also always mentions money, ("paid" or "unpaid"), one way or another, (in her "Introductions" to her "Introductions"), and the perceptive reader can detect her genuine [unwritten] feeling about such remuneration, or the lack thereof, in each instance. I really felt that these comments did not contribute positively, or at all, to the book.
Fisher died in 1992 at the ripe old age of 83 -- this was one of her later publications (1988) and, in all honesty, appears to be a milking of previous work just for one more "tick," to quote an English birdwatching term. While she wants you to believe that she wrote these, mostly kind, words either for good friends who deserved her praise, or for truly great literary efforts, I still garnered a feeling of the mercenary which she must have unconsciously conveyed in her writing.
One could easily say that M.F.K. Fisher was a controversial figure so I was certainly expecting some level of outrageousness in her comments. I found about what I had expected in that realm but I also picked up enough "drift" to come away thinking that Ms. Fisher may have been a sort of a [...] on some level. I don't cite that term with any mendacious or degrading motives -- I just mean it to clearly convey, for example, that when she got invited to social functions, I'll wager that it was more likely to fulfill "a social void" rather than to have her around for her bubbly personality.
"Dubious Honors," aside from the title, is an ego work. I did find it easy to read and interesting as well, albeit, I didn't actually learn much of use to me from the text. Fans of M.F.K. Fisher should think of this work as heavily autobiographical and will probably discover that it is much to their liking. There is some culinary interest, especially as it applies to the publication of cookbooks -- I think one could glean out some good advice from the text in that singular, obscure realm. Most casual readers, however, should probably pass this one by.