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Measure of Her Powers: An M. F. K. Fisher Reader Hardcover – November 1, 1999
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Perhaps it is the title, The Measure of Her Powers, that is the organizing principle behind this collection of writings lifted from the incredible oeuvre that M.F.K. Fisher left behind. A measurement, then, a means of finally understanding what all the noise may or may not be about. There are 27 books attributed to Fisher on the cover flap. Her writings pretty much cover a life lived full throttle from 1908 to 1992; The Measure of Her Powers pretty much covers her life as it has been written.
It's kind of like peering at a fascinating woman in different times in a long life through a ViewMaster, clicking right along: the girl at school, the young woman in France and Switzerland, the widow and mother in California, and so on. All of it is "seen" through a strong, gentle, steady voice. Clicking right along.
She was a better writer when exploring food and passion in her early works than she was later when reflecting. Exactly when any given piece was actually written is left off, though the original title from which any piece of text was drawn is included. The truly vigilant and curious could assemble the publishing dates and explore the times of this writer's life, comparing the one to the other.
The Measure of Her Powers is a grand excuse, really, to discover and to rediscover so unique an American writer as M.F.K. Fisher. For those who have never had the thrill of hearing that fluid voice of hers extolling the pleasures of a good meal and good company, it is here and waiting. For those who have forgotten that thrill, the reminder can be found between these covers. This is a text that points back to original volumes, where the writer may be more fully explored and appreciated. In some of those volumes the power of Fisher has no limits. In other volumes a certain tiresomeness and pointlessness creeps in. The Measure of Her Powers deftly maps the territory. --Schuyler Ingle
About the Author
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is widely acknowledged as the creator of the genre we now call "food writing." She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received lifetime achievement awards from the James Beard Foundation and the American Institute of Wine and Food.
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The ironic thing about Fisher is that her husband was the literary scholar (Al Fisher wrote a monumental epic poem that vanished upon publication.) Her writing, however, is some of the best American prose; honest, perceptive, introspective and biting. Her work endures and provides more than just a viewpoint on cooking; it is a wonderful glimpse into pre-World War 2 Europe and America.