"Blue Plate Special" --- A Memoir of Food, Comfort, and Comfort Food (and So Much More)
Our guest is the writer Kate Christensen, whose six novels include "The Great Man," which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. Her reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Elle, and elsewhere --- and her popular blog can be accessed here. Her latest book is "Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites," an acclaimed memoir, which she discusses with us on today's ST. Christensen's new book has been praised (in a starred review in Kirkus) for its "deliciously engrossing exploration of her life through the two major passions that have defined it: food and writing.... [It's] a Rabelaisian celebration of appetite, complete with savory recipes, that genuinely satisfies." And further, as a critic for Publishers Weekly has noted: "Christensen...describes her 1970s upbringing in Arizona in this unpretentious memoir. The oldest daughter of a Marxist lawyer and Waldorf-educated cellist, Christensen always modeled herself after her tough, uncompromising, iconoclastic father, whose manic rages nonetheless ruptured the family, sending the Christensen, her mother, and two sisters to start life in Tempe, Ariz., where her mother took up graduate studies in psychology. The three girls flourished, immersed in the era's consciousness-raising feminist literature and instant or experimental food, recipes for which Christensen dandles along her narrative without much ado (e.g., farmers fritters, camping peas). Her efficient, chronological chapters treat some of the details those years, such as her mother's boyfriends and her own crushes, even the sexual predator at the Waldorf school she attended briefly in high school in Spring Valley, N.Y., but mostly the undercurrent eddies around the author's persistent loneliness, which she indulged by solitary writing and gorging on comfort food like bread and granola. A stint in France (flageolets en pissenlits), followed by college in Portland at Reed, graduate school in Iowa City, and work in New York round out this frank memoir, with appropriate culinary offerings for the writer's darker moods (bachelorette puttanesca)."