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Stories and Memoirs

by M.F.K. Fisher

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-41576-9
Publisher: Pantheon

Fisher (who died earlier this year) is best known as a food-writer, but, whatever the subject, almost all her writing has been reminiscence. In this collection of bite-sized snippets--some food-centered, most not, and many prefaced by graceful little observations that cast the items as examples of some more general small troths--she recalls scenes and motifs, redolent of other times and attitudes and social conditions, from her Whittier, California, childhood and adolescence. Fisher looks back with quivering fondness on the tiny milestones in her "epicurean education," recalling (under the characteristic title "A Sweet and Timeless Shudder") the "voluptuous stickiness" of Turkish delight enjoyed at Saturday matinees. But she also casts in the same warm glow the spankings administered by a loved and loving father; her contacts with a succession of live-in household helpers; the joy in spring of changing from wool to cotton underwear; and, in an unconsciously patronizing piece, her family's odd behavior toward the local "young dried-up librarian." The longest piece recalls with more conscious rue a sort-of friendship with a classmate--a Mexican child and the "bad girl" of first grade--whom Fisher and others treated insensitively;, the last reproduces 1927 diary entries (when Fisher was 18) of interest only to a smitten Fisher-following. In one sketch, Fisher describes the "small sensual spree" an uncle made of the dining-car intervals on his transcontinental train trips. That phrase as aptly describes Fisher's own approach to life, amply detailed here.