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To begin again : stories and memoirs, 1908-1929
- "I have never seen any reason to be dull," writes M.F.K. Fisher in To Begin Again, "and since I was less than four I have enjoyed entertaining and occasionally startling anyone who may be listening." From those first stories told at the family dinner table she has continued to startle and entertain new generations of readers over the decades of her long and interesting life. She ostensibly writes about food, but while doing so Fisher created a genre, another way to talk passionately about all the hungers and satisfactions of the human heart. W.H. Auden called her "the best prose writer in America." Throughout her career Fisher made it a practice to circle back, returning often to her past in memoirs, stories, and journals. Less interested in the facts, perhaps, than in the truth that lies behind them, To Begin Again provides us with a new portrait of her early years, from her family's migration to California in 1912 to her first marriage in 1929. Some pieces were written as early as 1927, some as recently as 1990. All are suffused with her trademark wit, intelligence, and insight. Fisher speaks here of the people and events which first shaped her finely tuned and lasting appetites. During these years of "learning to live well gastronomically" she spent several rugged summers with Aunt Gwen, catching and frying fresh rock bass, carrying fried-egg sandwiches "greasily in our pockets on our long treks in every direction of that wild deserted country." This was when the young Fisher first felt the value of being nurtured in body and soul. Later during sensual family dinners free of the dietary strictures normally imposed by her absent grandmother, Fisher began to wonder about happiness and "how it seemed to be connected with open enjoyment of even a badly prepared dish that could be tasted without censure of the tasting." From the first glimpse of the precocious nineteen-year-old, keenly observant and eager for freedom, through the rich remembrances of Fisher in old age, To Begin Again offers great rewards.
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