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Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me: Journals and Stories, 1933-1941 Paperback – January 24, 1995
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olume of reminiscences by one of America's best-loved writers, now in paperback. The book reveals Fisher's "magnificent resilience, the comfort she took from daily writing, her marvelous powers of observation and humor, and, of course, her lifelong attractions to good food and drink."--San Francisco Chronicle.
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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.