Liane's Reviews > Get Thee to a Bakery

Get Thee to a Bakery by Rick  Bailey
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it was amazing

Rick Bailey sounds like an ideal travel companion. He’s endlessly curious, astute, and hilarious. All these traits are on dazzling display in his new book, "Get Thee to a Bakery," a delightful blend of memoir, travelogue and creative nonfiction. This is the perfect book for armchair travelers, which, thanks to the pandemic, most of us currently are.

Whether he’s hunting down his wife’s favorite bombolone in Italy, white water rafting in the American West or visiting the kids in Shanghai, he’s musing about such things as the long-term impact of digital technology, his wife’s holistic dentist, the ubiquity of meatloaf across cultures, or the derivation of the word “skeevy.” Bailey finds the humor in the minute, mundane details of quotidian life. His disquisition on ear worms alone is worth the price of the book. In these incisive, perfectly paced essays, he weaves personal and factual details together seamlessly, charming the reader with fresh and startling imagery: “My most vivid memory [of Florida] is standing on a bridge in a wildlife park, looking down at a hippo, up to its knees in a creek, gazing up at us, its mouth yawning open like the trunk of a Buick with teeth.”

Bailey, who married into an all-Italian all-the-time family, writes extensively about his passion for his wife’s homeland. After a few months of elbowing her at the dinner table and whispering, 'What did he say? What’s so funny?' he decides he needed to learn. In the essay “Speak to Me,” he writes,
“I heard it said once, if you want to learn a foreign language, you have to get a lover. There is some truth to this. In short order, you might pick up a few stock phrases from said lover, gumdrops such as “You are my everything,” “At last we have found each other,” “We live but once.” It’s a start. You listen, you experiment, you flub a lot. You make a little progress. Over time the phrases pile up and spill over, as new, more specific ones are added: “Pick up your socks, please.” “The car is making a funny noise.” “Are you going to eat that potato?”

Bailey often observes the aging process – or as he puts it, that stage of life where you’re “just beginning to incline…oldward.” In “This Body Offers to Carry Us,” he describes the extensive groaning he and his wife are doing, tosses in thoughts about his age-related hearing loss, and observes, “The wheels aren’t coming off, but they have begun to wobble.”

But there’s nothing wobbly to see here. This is a writer at the top of his game. His impeccable comic timing keeps the reader delightfully off kilter, as he zigzags on seemingly random tangents. Just as the reader finds herself thinking, “Ok, but where is this going?” he ties it together and brings it in for a perfect landing.

Highly recommend.

Thank you, University of Nebraska Press, for providing me with an advance reading copy.
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Reading Progress

January 4, 2021 – Started Reading
January 4, 2021 – Shelved
January 10, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Sherrie Anxiously awaiting a copy!

message 2: by Kathleen (new) - added it

Kathleen Me, too.

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