Blue Plate Special

by Kate Christensen
First Sentence: “Often, whenever I come up against anything painful or difficult, my mind escapes to food.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There are other issues, but mostly, lots of f-bombs (didn’t count).

I’m going to spare you this review and tell you what I think straight up: much like Vizzini, this book is not what Christensen (or I) thought it was. It says, right there on the cover, “An Autobiography of My Appetites.” And I thought: “Oh good! Food book!” Even though Christensen threw me a bone in the form of a recipe every once in a while (though honestly: BEAN BURRITOS), this had none of the hallmarks of a food book (except said recipes): luxurious, descriptive, evocative passages about the food and the eating experience.

What it was, however, was a very long, very involved, very sordid, very blunt telling of Christensen’s very messed-up life. It’s the epitome of tell-all: she Told it ALL, from her father’s abuse of her mother to her very horrid first marriage. I read the whole thing, though I often wondered why. (Actually, I knew why: it was one of those books that I kept hoping would get around to being what I Wanted It To Be, but never did. Those are the WORST KIND.) I wondered what the point was, because even though Christensen led an adventurous life, the book version of it was anything but interesting. I don’t know what her purpose was: to make us feel sorry that she never appreciated anything? To purge all her secrets so that she can make a fresh start? Whatever it was, all I got was annoyed: annoyed that she was going amazing places and not Taking Advantage. Annoyed that she spent her 30s drunk and unhappy. Annoyed that I picked up this stupid book in the first place.

The writing wasn’t even lyrical, or evocative. It was boring on a sentence level. Which makes me wonder about her novels, which I’ve never read. But then again, a person may be able to write a novel, but not manage to be evocative about a picnic in Italy. I think I’ll go find some Frances Mayes as a counter balance.

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