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Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me: Journals and Stories, 1933-1941 Hardcover – November 23, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
The introduction by her sister states that Fisher, who died at age 83 in 1992, pulled these eclectic choices together to complete her earlier memoirs, To Begin Again . Culled from journals, correspondences and short stories, these were intended to describe Fisher's life "as it really happened to her and as she felt it at the time," according to Barr. After their fruitful years in France, Fisher and her husband Al rode out the bleak Depression years with their families in California. They later traveled in Switzerland in the company of their friend, Dillwyn ("Timmy") Parrish, but the threesome broke up when the author and Parrish fell in love. In 1937, after her divorce from Al, the two married, but their union was ill-fated: intolerable pain from an incurable disease drove Parrish to suicide in 1941. The elegantly earthy style of the book is familiar, as is Fisher's theme: the need for good food and love. But as in the title story about the narrator's meeting with an alcoholic friend and her wealthy lesbian lover, there is a certain chilly distance to the narrator's descriptions of the disintegration of her once sparkling boarding school chum, one which hints at a ruthless persona not often seen in the usually wise and witty Fisher.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
These diaries and autobiographical sketches continue To Begin Again ( LJ 10/15/92), but here the gold of Fisher's early life has turned to lead. Stay Me records the disintegration of her first marriage, to Al Fisher, and the brief duration of her second, to their mutual friend Dillwyn Parrish, who is soon driven to suicide by incurable illness. Judging by her diaries, Fisher was a born writer, honest and precise if offhand, whose later categorization as a "food writer" obscured the true size of her talent. This memoir is not the place to begin reading her--it is too much the record of an inner journey--but those who have read her other works will welcome it. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/93.
- Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
The writing dates back to the point where her marriage to Al Fisher begins to dissolve, covers her meeting Timmy (aka "Chexbres" aka Dillwin Parrish)--her beloved second husband. She and Timmy had only a few years together before his devastating death. Fisher deals here more closely with Parrish's untimely death, but even so, there is a large whole around the event. She claimed she was a shadow of herself after Parrish died. Maybe so, but she lead a long and productive life up until her death at age 84 in 1992.
We are treated to some of the best prose Fisher could muster in this book, along with her journal musings and letters (from Mayo Clinic, where Parrish vainly sought treatment.) The journals and letters are revealing--this is how Fisher processed her thoughts on the way to writing some of the best biographical prose ever.
One biographical sketch in the book, about a meeting with an old friend and her lesbian lover in soon-to-be-Nazi-occupied Paris is exceptional. How Fisher manages to telegraph what is going to happen before she actually writes the sentence always floors me. Her deft use of a few short words to warn, to forbode are always amazing. It could be compared to Lillian Hellman's writing (Pentimento, for example) but is so much better. As Mary MacCarthy points out, you have to have truth in your writing and no one handled the painful truth better than Fisher.
That being said ... What is left out are the actual *stories* - there is *one* fictional story. The other three selections which I thought were stories ended up being basically journal entries written in prose form - which, once again, were enjoyable to read, but still disappointing. I know she was not known for her fiction, but I would really like to get my hands on the fiction she did write. Hopefully LAST HOUSE: Reflections, Dreams, and Observations, 1943-1991 will have a few stories in it, which the synopsis claims to be the case.
Those who have cleaved to M.F.K. Fisher's writing to match their own love of food and wine to her sensibilities will discover, in this book, the grains of sand that abraded her hopes as she produced the pearls Serve It Forth, The Gastronimical Me, An Alphabet for Gourmets, Consider the Oyster, and How to Cook a Wolf. Those who do not know M.F.K. Fisher, nor have an interest in food writing, will recognize in Fisher's prose their own struggles to reconcile the events of their lives with all things sensual and essential. Memoirs like this inform us that the human events and longings recorded in the past are startlingly present in our own lives.