That the greatly admired novelist Kate Christensen has turned to the memoir form after six novels makes this book an event. Readers of memoirs of high literary quality, particularly those with food themes - most conspicuously Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me with Apples and Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones, and Butter - as well as admirers of M. F. K. Fisher and Laurie Colwin will be a large and eager audience.
This memoir derives from Kate's popular foodcentric blog, in which she shares scenes from an unusual upbringing and an unusually happy present-day life, providing an audience for this book that is already primed. That it is written by Kate Christensen means it will be a delicious reading experience in every sense - a compulsively listenable account of a knockabout life, full of sorrows and pleasures, many of the latter of the sensual, appetitive variety.
"I’ve often thought that eating, writing and living well required similar qualities: creativity, daring, the ability to savor the good stuff and learn from the bad. Blue Plate Special is the memoir of an utterly original thinker, a free-spirited gourmand, and a great American writer. It’s an expert guide on inspiration, ingenuity, heartbreak, buoyancy, home, love, family, screwing up, bouncing back, and perfecting the bacon-cheddar biscuit." (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects)
"Blue Plate Special is the evocative, irresistible tale of the life and loves of one of America’s greatest writers, Kate Christensen. Her loves include: Family, friends, men, travel, literature, but perhaps most of all, food. This is a breathtaking book, sensuously written, emotionally generous, and decadent as a bowl of macaroni and cheese." (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins)
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Disappointing and Shallow
- Pamela Harvey
Compelling in lots of ways, from start to finish.
Kate Christensen has a lot of unique experiences growing up in various parts of the country (under various conditions) and later Europe, with unusual parents and extended family. She has a front row seat for some pretty exceptional experiences: living in France, the Iowa Writer's Workshop and working in NYC in the late nineties while living in pre-gentrified Williamsburg. Her voice is genuine and charming and I couldn't stop thinking about her when I wasn't listening.The only distraction is the narrator's voice, which has an affected, overly-respiratory breathiness that reminded me of an "I can't Believe it's Not Butter" commercial. You can get past it though, easy. Just would have been cooler if she'd read it herself. Reminded me lots of Blood, Bones and Butter.