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Edible Stories

2.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  375 Ratings  ·  100 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 crè
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Riverhead Books
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Nesa Sivagnanam
Feb 16, 2011 Nesa Sivagnanam rated it liked it
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
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Melissa
Sep 28, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it
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
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Caroline
Dec 23, 2012 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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
Dec 15, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2011 Becca rated it really liked it
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
Eugene Yu
Dec 27, 2014 Eugene Yu rated it did not like it
I picked up this book randomly at the local Ateneo library because i was attracted to its title and therefore wanted to know more of the contents . I was quite disappointed and was left hungry after battling my brains out and trying to figure out what was wrong with this novel. I did not feel for any of the characters in the story, it was a smorgasbord of delectable goodies that did not leave any impression on the reader, in my opinion, and as much as i would like to comprehend the seemingly del ...more
Gwen
Jun 17, 2011 Gwen rated it did not like it
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. ???
Nan
Nov 21, 2015 Nan rated it liked it
As a whole, this novel in 16 parts has too many holes. I like the idea -- linked stories -- but I think Kurlansky may have tried too hard to link them. Red sea salt seemed to be the character that appeared most often and tied the book together. When it took a major role in a story, I usually lost my taste for reading. (I have no idea what the salt tastes like or why it should be important and Kurlansky doesn't really help define the importance of the stuff.) Although it seems like contrivance no ...more
Ruby
Apr 24, 2015 Ruby rated it it was amazing
I've read a couple of outstanding collections of short stories this year (the other one being Delicate Edible Birds). There's something so meaty and satisfying about a really well crafted short story.

What makes these so great, is that the characters in the different stories are interconnected. It's not a string of totally unrelated tales, but a collection of stories that coincide in time and are told from different people's perspective. Not an actual novel like Garcia's YO! where it's the same s
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Maggi
Nov 26, 2010 Maggi rated it liked it
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
Aug 28, 2013 Brooke Everett rated it liked it
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
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Ian
Jan 30, 2011 Ian rated it liked it
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
Melody
Cleverly constructed, but with little depth or substance. This collection of loosely related short stories that styles itself a novel is actually pretty fun if you can get over the fact that it is not nearly as much about food as it wants to be, and if you can suspend the desire for coherence long enough to feel the small satisfaction of recognizing the same characters in new contexts.

Lynn
Oct 26, 2014 Lynn rated it liked it
I wanted to like these stories more than I did, because I like the premise of the collection. Each story is about one kind of food, or simply takes a dish as its title. Unfortunately, most of the stories are flat. The characters seem to exist simply to serve the story and they are undeveloped. One character seemed better than the rest, but even he diminishes over the stories.
The stories don't really intersect, but some characters recur in other stories. That part is poorly done and I think the c
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Clio
Sep 28, 2014 Clio rated it really liked it
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
Sep 19, 2011 Alison Miller rated it really liked it
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
Jul 14, 2011 Brett rated it liked it
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
Mary
Jan 02, 2015 Mary rated it it was ok
Collection of stories relating to a specific food or food-theme in which several of the stories intersect each other. A few were strange, but most were not very memorable. Definitely not as interesting as the author's book on the history of salt.
Jennifer
Mar 25, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Delightfully quirky short stories that are loosely intertwined. The stories stand alone, but are like a Russian Nesting Doll. The use of food and imagery is scrumptious.
Peter Spencer
Aug 25, 2015 Peter Spencer rated it really liked it
I loved this funny and inventive novel told in sixteen parts. Each part is a stand-alone chapter based on a different edible item. Original and well-written.
Carl C
Apr 04, 2012 Carl C rated it liked it
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
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Jessica
Jan 03, 2016 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: food, fiction
2.5

This reads more like a collection than a novel. Some of the stories are quite enjoyable, but like most collections there were a few I struggled to finish.
Carol
Aug 16, 2016 Carol rated it liked it
A fun read for the beach. A pick from my local little library box. SHort stories connected by food.
Elisse
Apr 23, 2016 Elisse rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book very much- loved the way the stories work together...
Julie
Dec 20, 2015 Julie rated it really liked it
A novel in 16 short stories"," very interesting"," wrote out an org chart!
Will
Dec 03, 2011 Will rated it did not like it
Shelves: food-writing
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
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Anne
May 28, 2014 Anne rated it liked it
Some of these were actually quite delicious!
Niya B
Jan 16, 2013 Niya B rated it it was ok
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 really liked it
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
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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
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