Friday, December 10, 2010

Edible StoriesEdible Stories by Mark Kurlansky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kurlansky is famous for his "micro-histories" like Cod and Salt that take a seemingly mundane subject and expand on it to reveal its pivotal place in human history. Here he attempts the same approach to fiction with somewhat more mixed results. A novel in the form of sixteen separate short stories about a loose collection of people linked by coincidence or consanguinity, it ranges from Anne Beattie-like minimalism to borderline magical realism, held together by a persistent tone of low-key wistfulness, with food -- unsurprisingly, given the author's previous work -- serving as a running focus of or link between its characters (for instance, the bag of "red Hawaiian sea salt" that gets passed from person to person like Stevenson's Bottle Imp). Not bad for what it is, but it made me hungry for more of Kurlansky's nonfiction.

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