Salon.com senior editor Moses (Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath, 2003, etc.) shares an emotive life framed by sugary sweets.
The author grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., in the 1960s, and her mercurial, struggling-artist mother co-dependently bonded amid a male-dominated household. A “compliant, tidy daughter,” Moses recalls sugar being the “mainstay of my diet as a child,” which only amplified her “cake obsession” as an adult. The author recalls fond memories of her San Franciscan relatives, especially her “parsimonious old coot” of a grandfather who demonstrated an uncanny knack for fudge-making and trolling the dump for discarded treasures. Her confident mother subsisted within a “fairly constant thrum of creative emergency,” demonstrated in the crafting of spectacular birthday cakes for her children like three-dimensional bunnies and an elaborate gingerbread Noah's Ark. Though Moses believed her parents to be “disastrously mismatched,” they managed to keep the family unified throughout frequent relocations to various East Coast locales to accommodate her father's job, as well as a move from Virginia to Alaska in 1974 that created significant riffs in her parent's marriage. In the years that followed, the author found contentment in random boyfriends, her college days back in California, a prized editorial job at North Point Press in Berkeley, where she befriended authors like M.F.K. Fisher and Kay Boyle, and in creating a family of her own. Deliberate, sensitive and meticulous, the narrative brims with dense, curiously exacting detail, and each chapter closes with a tempting, uncomplicated recipe.
A delectable, well-crafted memoir.