June 30, 2011

The Persistance of Memory

Book CoverAbout a month ago, I read Aimee Bender's THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE.

It's a brilliant book. The basic conceit is that Rose Edelstein tastes the emotions in food. Her mother is crushed by despair; a local baker is impatient and frustrated. One point is almost unbearably creepy, but it's instantly lifted by Rose's greatest discovery. Aimee Bender's writing is lovely and affecting, but my favorite part was the way she analyzed the human relationship to food. I, myself, am a stress baker. I love to bake. I love to take a recipe, make it, taste it, then fiddle around and improve it. If I'm having trouble thinking through something, I just whip up a batch of something delicious and give myself time to refresh.

Bender's story is not just about the secrets people keep. It's a great theme, but one that's common. It's about how we approach one of our greatest needs and desires. In what ways do we sustain ourselves?

I'm writing about it because of this blog post by Ann Summerville. Until I came across this post today, I'd forgotten there were no quotation marks. It didn't matter to me with THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE.

For me, the experience mattered more than the details.

Forget baking.  I love to read.


  1. Can I have one of your cupcakes? I am so in the mood!! I have held this book in my hands several times, but never brought it home. You have me thinking that I should.

    Thank you for your comments. You know which ones. They really mean a lot.

    You are going to help keep publishing alive.


  2. Everyone at the course wants me to make cupcakes! (One of the girls is inheriting kitchen tools soon, so I'll borrow hers.) You should make a special trip to New York City just for my cupcakes.

    Also, I vote for buy it. I think you'd love it.

    You're welcome. And, truly, it's thanks to people like you who write. There would be no reason to publish without authors.


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