First published in 1916, this book is a fun little bit of living children's book history. Although the story is much less subtle in its moralizing thaFirst published in 1916, this book is a fun little bit of living children's book history. Although the story is much less subtle in its moralizing than any current book would dare to be, I didn't find it didactic or overly preachy. This book serves as a delightful anthropomorphized introduction to forest creatures -- and correctly places the little boy in the unusual position of being the scariest creature in the Green Forest. I was charmed and amused for the short time it took to read.
How could it have been better? I could have had an eight year old around to read it to!...more
MFK Fisher is often referred to as a food writing pioneer, but really she was also ahead of her time in the now familiar blend of personal memoire andMFK Fisher is often referred to as a food writing pioneer, but really she was also ahead of her time in the now familiar blend of personal memoire and informative prose, her brilliant writing illuminating her life and the neverending story of food. I’m familiar with her work from many other sources, so I had great expectations of this, her first published book. Unfortunately, like many first efforts, it includes a lot that doesn’t live up to her later work – pieces about food in history that sound exactly as old as they are, which is about 80. Having enjoyed other jewels from her pen, parts of this book are quite disappointing. The miraculous thing is how unique and un-expired other parts are. She shines where she combines stories from her own life with stories of food, as in a charming bit about one of the most satisfying things she’d ever eaten: bread and chocolate after a hike in the French mountains. And throughout, anything she experiences herself is described in poetic evocative language; here’s an example, describing an efficient busman working in an otherwise despicable restaurant:
His body is good, with no bones holding it up, but not soft, either, and his hair is fine and purple above his dark face. He moves like a wave, steadily and impersonally. Other people are shoved and pushed, but as he walks through the restaurant, balancing his body easily under the tray, he is never touched.
Her best bits, though, seem almost too fantastic to be true – but if made up they are, what an imagination she has. Here’s an example (describing different styles of kitchens):
There is a Basque kitchen I once heard of that has very pleasant things about it, too. One wall of the stone-built room is packed with straw, all of it, solidly. Its surface is clipped to a neat smoothness. Then, the first cold night of autumn, the straw wall is lit from the bottom, and so cleverly has it been laid that the whole room blazes with a slow steady warmth until late spring comes. Ashes sift down all winter to the hot bed on the floor, where three-legged gipsy pots send out the heady odours of Basque stews; and no lamps are ever needed.
So: an uneven book, and certainly not the best place to start with M.F.K. Fisher, but worthwhile (and very short!). ...more
This book is quite dated now -- a few years is a lot when you are talking about such a dynamic area. But Clay Shirky has a lot of insight into why sucThis book is quite dated now -- a few years is a lot when you are talking about such a dynamic area. But Clay Shirky has a lot of insight into why such things are happening and this book is good fuel to get you thinking about the new world of spontaneous order....more