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Edible Stories

2.79 of 5 stars 2.79  ·  rating details  ·  312 ratings  ·  88 reviews
All-new stories about the food we share, love, and fight over from the national bestselling author of Cod and Salt.

In these linked stories, Mark Kurlansky reveals the bond that can hold people together, tear them apart, or make them become vegan: food. Through muffins or hot dogs, an indigenous Alaskan fish soup, a bean curd Thanksgiving turkey or potentially toxic crèm...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Riverhead Trade
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(showing 1-30 of 674)
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Nesa Sivagnanam
The 16 stories gathered together here in Edible Stories are organized around some form of food and/or eating theme. Food creates a kind of bond around which the characters interact; it’s natural and normal – until it’s crazy.

In “Crème Brulee,” the main character has a fear of said dessert. Kurlansky takes Emma, the petrified eater, through a love affair and subsequent marriage built on serious food neurosis. It’s hilarious.

“Osetra” is about a thief who steals caviar right from under the delicacy...more
Melissa
I think that a rating of “decent” is just about perfect for Edible Stories. I liked it while I was reading it, but it definitely did not leave as much of an impact on me, and I doubt I will ever pick it up to read again. I, like many other reviews, was disappointed overall, but just simply because I feel like this book had so much potential that it simply did not rise to—while the subject material was there, the interesting storyline that it promised me simply was not. Also, I do think the “food...more
Joshua Finnell
Library Journal Review:

Best known for his nonfiction works (Cod; Salt), Kurlansky rarely dabbles in pure fiction. His last work of fiction, Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue: A Novel of Pastry, Guilt, and Music, was an ambitious effort focused on the intersections of culture, love, and, of course, food. A similar concept is applied in this work, with a focus on food as the thread that ties humanity together. Though this book is presented as a novel, the main story is hidden within a gumbo of 16 different v...more
Caroline
Scents and food, for some people, trigger memories, both good and bad. Here are 16 stories where people, their interaction through food and with others, are chronicled. A woman stops eating because she stops trusting those who prepare the foods,believing creme brulee to be toxic, a man finds himself standing with one leg in a hole in the sidewalk, with amnesia, no sense of smell or taste, a woman gradually becomes a vegan and serves tofurkey at Thanksgiving to her family, a man, known for delici...more
Stephen
Mark Kurlansky is a genius. Who can write a non-fiction book about nothing but cod and see it become a best seller? Or about salt? He did. In a different key, Kurlansky demonstrates the same gift for narrative in a work of fiction. Is it a novel in sixteen chapters? Or a collection of sixteen short stories through which some themes, characters, things and ideas recur? Yes. The first story, "Red Sea Salt," was so disturbing that I almost put the book aside; I am happy that I did not. Humour appea...more
Becca
I am not a short-story reader, but I was fascinated by this collection of 16 stories that I stumbled across in the library last week. The author carefully crafts 16 entirely unique stories, but each one has a character or prop or location that carries over into each other story. However, you have to pay very close attention to catch some of the connections. The individual stories are beautifully written considering they span such a wide range of topics and settings, and the collection is pieced...more
Gwen
As a foodie, I thought I would love this. Maybe this book would bridge the gap and make me enjoy short stories. It didn't happen. The first one, I just didn't get. A man finds himself with his foot in a hole of water with no memory. ???
Maggi
Nice. This guy wrote "Cod", which I enjoyed, and several other journalistic forays into a single subject (like "Salt", which I have not read). In this book he turns to fiction, and short stories, each centered around a food. The characters sometimes make appearances in multiple stories, and many of them are quite funny in their self-delusions. It starts with a very strange story about a man who has suddenly lost his memories and any sense of taste, and because the story is told from his perspect...more
Brooke Everett
I'm a fan of Kurlansky's non-fiction work - Cod rocked my socks, Salt is very high-up on my "to-read" list, and I'm planning to re-read the Basque History of the World soon - so I was excited to learn he had put some fiction out into the universe, too.

The stories themselves were ok. Some are better than others. It's confusing that he refers to this work as a novel, as it seemed like it was simply a collection of individual stories where the same characters showed up more than once. Often, a char...more
Ian
Kurlansky is famous for his "micro-histories" like Cod and Salt that take a seemingly mundane subject and expand on it to reveal its pivotal place in human history. Here he attempts the same approach to fiction with somewhat more mixed results. A novel in the form of sixteen separate short stories about a loose collection of people linked by coincidence or consanguinity, it ranges from Anne Beattie-like minimalism to borderline magical realism, held together by a persistent tone of low-key wistf...more
Clio
Sep 28, 2014 Clio rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Intriguing, whimsical and sometimes creepy, these linked short stories duck and weave through food and human nature. I loved locating the connection, reflecting on the passage of time and how lives change swiftly.
Very enjoyable, I inhaled this book in one sitting, in between cups of tea and cake. A delight.
Alison Miller
As a fan of Kurlansky's non-fiction, I was very pleased to find this book, my first experience of his fictional work, in the clearance section of Half Price Books. Needless to say, less than twenty-four hours later, I have finished the book and am very pleased with what I read. Each chapter, a short story, is connected to the other chapters by one fine string. The relationship with the characters and the food after which each chapter is titled is refreshingly creative... including the title of t...more
Brett
I read one of Kurlansky's non-fiction books, which was about salt, and since I liked that back and I like food I figured I'd read this one. It's a series of short stories that actually come together to form a novel. Each story focuses on different characters, although some characters do cut across a few of the stories. Each of the stories centers around food. In some stories the food adds to the plot, and in others it seems unnecessary. The characters throughout the book are unique, and the it s...more
Carl C
2.5 stars out of 5.

What appears to be random chapters are actually inter-related short stories with food connected to or centered on each chapter. A bit free-flowing for my taste as I felt directed by the author to a certain theme or direction. My presumption after reading a few chapters is that there may be some type of *connectedness*, but as I read further in the latter chapters, not necessarily so.

There were splashes of humor and sobriety in the book within individual chapters, and yet I wa...more
Will
Without a doubt worst book I read this year, which was a shock to me because I love Mark Kurlansky. His food writing is on par if not better than other more acclaimed authors in this category.

His research into various food subjects is outstanding, however his venture into fiction with this book was horrible. Each chapter is a short story and after 55 pages I gave up. I have not done that with a book in many many years, however I could not stomach another chapter.

I can tell by the other reviews...more
Anne
Some of these were actually quite delicious!
Niya B
The notion of a collection of edible stories, of disconnected lives bound to each other by shared instances, and shared foods seems like a lovely thing. Instead, this novel is composed of sixteen disparate parts with less to link them than anyone might guess. Reoccurring characters are poorly developed, and there isn't enough information to develop a sense of empathy with any of them. They're all a bit sad, a bit lost, and a bit confused - exactly the way I was left feeling at the end of the nov...more
Judy
May 07, 2011 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
These stories are odd! The book has a subtitle: "A Novel in Sixteen Parts," and while at first it is not clear if and how these parts relate, it becomes clearer as you go on. Each story features food in some way, but it means different things in different stories. There is a slightly Kafka-esque feeling to the first story, which begins with a man standing with one leg in a hole - and no idea how he got there. One piece (called "Cholent") is pretty hilarious. The way it wraps up is...surprising.....more
Becki Iverson
I've long loved Mark Kurlansky and was super excited to check out this work of fiction - I've only been familiar with his nonfiction before.

I should say straight up that I've always had issues with short story collections - for some reason they just don't do much for me. It follows then that although I found this well written, I just couldn't get into it.

Anyone who's a fan of Kurlansky and/or short stories should pick this up - I'm sure they'll like it. Just wasn't for me.
Connie
Unusual foods are a unifying element in this group of sixteen short stories set in strange situations all over the world. A bag of red sea salt pops up in many of the stories, passed from one character to another. A few of the characters appear in more than one story, but at totally different locations. In many stories, the food almost becomes one of the characters because of the character's obsession with it. The author has a subtle sense of humor which runs through the stories.
Alex
The good: the food writing is passable, and it's a quick read. Unlike Salt, I made it to the end of this one.

The bad: Too much to mention, but here's a sample. Terrible characterizations; personalities change inexplicably between stories. Painfully terrible baseball writing in one chapter. Terrible ethnic stereotypes throughout. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad drawings. I'm going to stop now before I get mad.
Lynn
As a Borders Fiction Expert, I was sent this book to read and review. Unfortunately, I was not overly impressed, although I certainly admire the skill required to compose the interwoven complexities of each of these stories to create a "whole" which was circular in design. Quite interesting, but this work did not resonate with me... I just felt little with which to connect overall.
GDean
This works better as a set of short stories than as a "novel". I very much enjoyed a few of the stories and the wry commentary on the obsession with food critics and food stars (who is a gourmet and who is a not). Unfortunately, the stories were not that well tied together. But there definitely are characters and scenes that I remember and laugh about down the road.
Betsy
Jan 09, 2011 Betsy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
I knew nothing about this book, picking it up from a library shelf. The title caught my eye, and I have read nonfiction by this author. This was a series of related short stories, each centered around some different kind of food. It was a fast read, but neither the characters nor the story plots were engaging enough for me. I prefer Kurlansky's nonfiction.
Marjanne
I actually finished this book last week and I can't really remember much about it, so that indicates that this novel didn't really do much for me. I didn't necessarily dislike it and I don't really have any strong feelings about it. Tying the stories together with both food and characters was interesting, even though it felt more like a plot device.
Cathy
This is a collection of intertwined short stories with food as the central theme. All the stories have a food title except for the last one named Margaret. Characters and food pop up in different stories. Kurlansky, in each story displays his extensive knowledge of food. I found the stories a little uneven but overall enjoyable.
Shannon Ferguson
I did not like these stories very much. They are supposedly all interconnected "chapters" with a sort of food theme that runs throughout. Some of the characters were funny or unique, but just about the time I started to get interested in them, they ended or they went kind of haywire. I just wasn't feeling the vast majority of them.
Anna
Jul 10, 2011 Anna added it
Fiction food writing, in a nutshell. The chapters, each titled with the name of a different food, are separate but intertwining short stories. The stories are less about the food itself than they are about the ways in which food factors into our interpersonal relationships. Food can make or break a connection between two people.
Vanessa
I liked this book enough to finish it but I doubt I'd ever pick it up again. To be honest, now I use it to fill the gap between the clamp on my pasta roller & my counter top ... its the perfect size! That being said, some of the stories were more entertaining than others, but by the end of the novel I was just left thinking "uhh okay?"
Mary
I had come so far that I couldn't not finish this book, unfortunately, I am upset I wasted my time on it. So much for "A Novel in 16 Parts," this book was more like 16 short stories that may sometimes have similar themes or ideas of previous characters that appear throughout but in no way is it a "novel."
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1847
Mark Kurlansky (born 7 December 1948 in Hartford, Connecticut) is a highly-acclaimed American journalist and writer of general interest non-fiction. He is especially known for titles on eclectic topics, such as cod or salt.

Kurlansky attended Butler University, where he harbored an early interest in theatre and earned a BA in 1970. However, his interest faded and he began to work as a journalist in...more
More about Mark Kurlansky...
Salt: A World History Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America

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