An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher

An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher

by Anne Zimmerman
     
 

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In An Extravagant Hunger, time slows and is relished, and the turning points and casual strolls of M.F.K. Fisher’s life are unwrapped and savored. From the Berengaria that washed her across the sea to France in 1929, to Le Paquis, the Swiss estate that later provided a backdrop for some of the most idyllic and fleeting moments of her life, the stories of

Overview

In An Extravagant Hunger, time slows and is relished, and the turning points and casual strolls of M.F.K. Fisher’s life are unwrapped and savored. From the Berengaria that washed her across the sea to France in 1929, to Le Paquis, the Swiss estate that later provided a backdrop for some of the most idyllic and fleeting moments of her life, the stories of Fisher’s love for food and her love for family and men are meticulously researched and exquisitely captured in this book. Exploring Fisher’s lonely and formative time in Europe with her first husband; her subsequent divorce and re-marriage to her creative sparkplug, Dillwyn Parrish, and his tragic suicide; and the child she carried from an unnamed father, the story of M.F.K. Fisher’s life becomes as vibrant and passionate as her prolific words on wine and cuisine.

Letters and journal entries piece together a dramatic life, but An Extravagant Hunger steps further, bridging the gaps between personal notes and her public persona, filling in the silences by offering an engaging and unprecedented depth of intuitive commentary. With a passion of her own, Anne Zimmerman is the careful witness, lingering beside M.F.K. Fisher through her most dramatic and productive years.

Editorial Reviews

Sarah Halzack
Anne Zimmerman mines Fisher's journals and letters to create a rich portrait of a troubled, talented woman with a hearty appetite…Fisher's hopeless struggle for happiness and her soap-opera-worthy love life—as well as Zimmerman's careful attention to detail and suspenseful pacing—will keep readers turning these pages.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Zimmerman, a contributor to Culinate.com, explores the privileged yet emotionally turbulent world of the pioneering American food writer Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher. In her sympathetic yet critical biography of the life behind Fisher's celebrated writings, Zimmerman finds a passionate woman defined by "lifelong hungers." Using access to Fisher's private letters and with help from the family, Zimmerman paints Fisher's emotions and discoveries that she realized in those moments where her personality and adventurous palette intersect. "Her desire for food, for love and for attention of any kind, was relentless," writes Zimmerman. "Food helped her understand the world." In turn, Zimmerman's carefully crafted narrative urges readers to connect Fisher's expanding self-awareness to the literary career she built. It also maps the unique tastes Fisher found, then sensuously described along her way from a California childhood to her European (mostly French) and Mexican odysseys; three marriages; and the suicides of her second husband, Tim Parrish, in 1941 followed by that of her brother David a year later. This focused, smart, and engaging view serves MFK Fisher as both culinary writer and cultural icon. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Praise for An Extravagant Hunger

"Zimmerman has captured the passionate apprenticeship and wandering years, with all their turmoil and pleasure interwoven with pain, which created such a marvelous writer and such an enduringly luminous woman." —The Washington Post

"In her sympathetic yet critical biography of the life behind Fisher's celebrated writings, Zimmerman finds a passionate woman defined by 'lifelong hungers' . . . Focused, smart, and engaging." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582438696
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
02/10/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
366,157
File size:
303 KB

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from An Extravagant Hunger

In the introduction to the British version of The Art of Eating, W.H. Auden said, “I do not know of anyone . . . who writes better prose.” His words about M.F.K. Fisher are perhaps the most authentic analysis of her style. Although many people write about food and hunger, there are few who write about it well. Rarer still is a writer who composes prose with the precision and grace of M.F.K. Fisher. Her lines are imbued with poetry and philosophy that could make the greatest of writers weep.

M.F.K. Fisher had many literary successes and experienced a significant rise in fame as the United States began to appreciate the highest quality of food and wine. Her later writing was collected and well-loved, but it is often her early works—Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and her translation of Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste—that are adored, dog-eared, stained with the deep red imprint of the base of a wine glass, kept on the favored part of the shelf, and returned to again and again.

It was her early works that established food writing as a genre and named M.F.K. Fisher as its queen. But it is the strength of her writing that keeps her from being dethroned. Simply put, there’s still no one today who writes about the transcendental experience of eating and drinking better than M.F.K. Fisher. She forever changed how the world thinks, and writes, about food.

Meet the Author

Anne Zimmerman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She holds a BA from Linfield College and an MA from San Diego State, where her thesis was a biographical study of the life of M.F.K. Fisher. She has spent extensive time researching Fisher at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College and is a food enthusiast and contributor to Culinate.com. She lives in San Francisco, California.

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