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Garlic Is Life Paperback – March 1, 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Loosely the story of how a divorced, middle-aged Jewish professor of English moved from San Francisco to rural Sonoma County, California, and found fulfillment in the ups and downs of garlic farming, this intensely personal narrative describes the interplay of generations and cultures in Northern California. It should have particular appeal for garlic heads, would-be writers, middle-aged men in transition, feisty septuagenarians, and touchy-feely types. Along with fiercely prejudiced discourses on garlic, Chester Aaron presents his sentimental story in crisp, no-nonsense prose loaded with Woody Allen-esque asides and self-deprecating observations. The book ends with 40 recipes.

Review

Aaron grows over thirty garlics from seventeen countries: this blend of garlic cultivation tips, folklore, and use advice includes more than thirty garlic recipes, but is most noted for its wealth of growing tips and its approach to garlic appreciation. A whimsical and practical memoir with recipes, this will appeal to any prior garlic fan. -- Midwest Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898158060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898158069
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,598,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Charles E. Walter on July 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an autobiographical slice of Chester Aaron's life as he waas intoduced to garlic growing and became a garlic devotee. Aaron and his cat take the reader into the world of garlic,its many varities, and how to best grow these bulbs of life. At the end of the book are thirty recipes for tasty garlic dishes. It is a very readable primer on garlic growing.
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Format: Paperback
Chester Aaron has something for everyone. His love of Garlic is only matched by his love of a richly varied life. The receipes are are a little simplistic and really a sidebar to the real story which is Aaron himself. I am buying several copies to Give to friends. This book is not a loaner
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I loved reading this book so much that I had to read it all in one go. Chester Aaron tells the story of how he found a new life in his 60's when he bought a piece of land and became an organic garlic farmer in the town of Occidental, CA. This story is unstinting in its details of his time on a sheep ranch, some details quite gruesome such as the time a laboring ewe had to have one of her lambs pulled out of her using rope and a pickup truck. Mother and babies survived. A very honest journey of discovery, devotion, wonder, hard work, love, snobbery, adventure. I learned a LOT about garlic, which I love but which, as I've learned now, I have barely explored. Mr. Aaron, the cat Sadie who owns his solar-heated home and hunts out the gophers who would destroy his garlics, the ghosts of his father and mother, his friends and his experiences are so life affirming. He talks about his doubts about what he's doing, learning as he's doing. He is always active, asking questions, observing. Very well-written. I don't know if he'd approve of a comparison, but this book is up there with Steinbeck for me.
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Format: Paperback
I have had the pleasure of interviewing Chester on my gardening show on a couple of occassions and found him charming, enlightening and certainly passionate about his garlic. I was thouroughly pleased when I found the book to be an extension of his interviews. This man at 80 something is more full of life than most twenty year olds and he exudes this energy and love of life into print in a way that makes you feel that you are in the field talking with him rather than reading a book. The recipies were devine. An absolute must for the Garlic aficionado.
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My opinion of this book is bias due to my love of garlic.

Originally I started with 12 cloves of garlic my first year gardening. Each year I planted more and more until just last fall when I planted almost 400. This is something that also happened to the author of this story, as well as something that will ring true to anyone that takes on the challenge of growing garlic.

The book serves as an autobiographical tale of the authors life as it has revolved around garlic in one form or another. The characters are very real (although they should be if they're based on real characters) and the author does a great job of bringing you into his life and showing you how garlic really connects him to his childhood (more specifically his father) and his ancestors. He talks at great lengths on this history of certain strains as well as the "garlic" we find in grocery stores.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in growing garlic, or has found themselves on their hands and knees on an overcast day in October plunking clove after clove after clove in the ground. This book will certainly ring true. Even if you don't have an interest in garlic but are still interested in gardening, this book is a fun, easy read that you can enjoy while sipping a glass of ice tea after you finish your garden duties.

With all that said there is only one thing about this book that bugged me, and it is the main reason why it lost a star. The dialogue. Now, it stands to reason that the author probably used some of the exact words from conversations he had with people but I couldn't get past it's awkwardness.
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