Last House: Reflections, Dreams, and Observations, 1943-1991

Overview

Along with To Begin Again and Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me, this anthology was the last project M.F.K. Fisher worked on before her death in 1992. Last House presents a frank, wry, and revealing portrait of Fisher's life, her loves, and herself. 304 pp.

The final volume in a trilogy of selections from the journals, short stories, and correspondence of one of America's best-loved writers. With style, humor, and spare, elegant prose, Fisher retraces her adventures in France ...

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Overview

Along with To Begin Again and Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me, this anthology was the last project M.F.K. Fisher worked on before her death in 1992. Last House presents a frank, wry, and revealing portrait of Fisher's life, her loves, and herself. 304 pp.

The final volume in a trilogy of selections from the journals, short stories, and correspondence of one of America's best-loved writers. With style, humor, and spare, elegant prose, Fisher retraces her adventures in France as a young housewife, recalls her return to California, and ruminates on such favorite themes as food, literature, and relationships.

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Editorial Reviews

Ruth Coughlin
"Last House," a collection of more than 60 short pieces spanning half a century, is the last in Fisher's trilogy of reminiscences that began with "To Begin Again" and was followed by "Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me". Many of the current entries involve Fisher's complicated observations as she battles old age and cruel and debilitating illnesses....But it is valuable for representing Fisher at the end and offers her own plain assessment of the woman we have come to know over time as complex: "I write now much as I did more than 50 years ago. In other words, I have stayed simple, and I am basically a simple person." -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fisher's mother used to keep what she called ``a glory hole'': a rummage space filled with castoffs, canning jars, bags full of old stockings and torn lamp shades. This postmortem collection of Fisher's hitherto unpublished essays, musings and excerpts from nearly 50 years of journals (1943-1991) is itself such a glory hole. Most of the pieces date from the last decade of her life (she died at 84 in 1992), when, suffering from arthritis, failing eyesight and parkinsonism, she could barely read, write or speak. It is not prime MFK, but one still finds touches that sparkle: a warm memoir of her agent, Russell Volkening; a deft sketch of Charlie, her cat; fond recollections of erotic pleasures she no longer missed; frank talk of the physical and mental effects of her disabilities; and thoughts on old age and approaching death. These last fragmentary pieces are testimony to the valiant spirit of a woman who relished life-and whose graceful talent once taught us to Consider the Oyster. (June)
Library Journal - Ruth Coughlin
This is the last book written by Fisher prior to her death in 1992-and her third volume of memoirs, following To Begin Again (LJ 10/15/92) and Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me (LJ 9/1/93). Last House is a collection of 68 short pieces written over the last 48 years of Fisher's life, 46 of them written in the 1980s. Only three of the pieces have been previously published. This last memoir is a collection of random thoughts, ideas, feelings, and experiences related to such things as bugs, death, dreams, strip searches, sleeping pills, meals, suicide, and sleep. Fisher exudes a bittersweet tone that is both calming and unsettling as she writes frankly about the distastefulness of living with and caring for her elderly father; her attitudes toward people who like her; the frustration of living, aging, and dying; and her furstration and anger at being a writer unable to read, write, or speak as arthritis and Parkinson's disease overtake her. Although a few of the earlier pieces elude clear meaning and purpose, most of this collection should be read for its frankness and realism, particularly by the aging and by those caring for the aged or terminally ill.-Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Donna Seaman
M. F. K. Fisher (190892) brought great pleasure to lovers of fine prose and good food. A frank and sensual writer, she wrote with well-tempered passion about her unusual life and powerful appetites. This is her last book, and it is a fitting farewell. Fisher started this project full of ambition but completed it besieged by pain and frustration as Parkinson's disease severed the once reliable link between her crystal-clear mind and life-loving body. As Fisher had to give up first the keyboard, then the pen, she decided to mix older, never before published pieces with new ones, thus creating a wonderfully diverse set of tart and feisty reminiscences, observations, and confessions. Fisher's humor is as sharp and dry as a good martini when she writes about husbands and lovers, friends and adversaries, food and restaurants, travels and home. Her tone deepens in her final pieces as she focuses on aging and expresses her impatience with the "winding down" that precedes death, but we'll always picture Fisher bright-eyed and elegant, never missing a trick or at a loss for words.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679439080
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/30/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Why Again (1965) 3
1 War (1943) 5
2 Rex - I (1950) 10
3 Rex - II (1951) 13
4 Tea with Agamemnon (1951) 18
5 Eaters (1959) 24
6 Death of a Mouse (1965) 27
7 A Few of the Men (1965) 33
8 The Blue Gun (1966) 48
9 Paris (1969) 51
10 The Green Talk (1971) 54
11 Strip Search (1972) 58
12 M. F. K. F. (1975) 64
13 Stealing (1976) 67
14 Fossils (1976) 72
15 Empty Cupboards (1977) 75
16 Thimble (1978) 78
17 Not Enough (1978) 82
18 Then (1978) 86
19 Interviews - I (1979) 87
20 Poor Food (1979) 94
21 Noels Provencaux (1979) 97
22 One Verse of a Song (1980) 103
23 Bugs (1980) 109
24 Light Sleeper (1980) 113
25 The Hot Look of July (1980) 115
26 Interviews - II (1980) 118
27 Unsuspected (1981) 124
28 Visitation (1981) 126
29 Recovery (1981) 130
30 Rewriting (1982) 134
31 Gobbling (1983) 137
32 Kicking Old Habits (1983) 141
33 Night Thoughts (1983) 144
34 Syndrome (1983) 150
35 Les Vendangeuses (1983) 155
36 Reasons Behind the Reasons (1983) 158
37 New Year's Day (1984) 161
38 Alarm Clock (1984) 168
39 Beware (1984) 171
40 Winding Down (1984) 175
41 Journeys (1984) 177
42 Being Kind to Oneself (1984) 184
43 Games (1985) 187
44 The Difference Between Dawdling and Waiting (1985) 191
45 Leftovers (1985) 193
46 Furniture (1985) 194
47 Jumping from Bridges (1986) 196
48 Prisms (1986) 201
49 White Wine Trips (1986) 203
50 Sleep (1986) 207
51 Vomiting (1987) 216
52 Glory Hole (1988) 223
53 Potato Chips (1988) 225
54 Quotations (1988) 227
55 Frustration - I (1988) 229
56 Travel (1988) 234
57 Volkening (1988) 237
58 Ho-Hum Stuff (1988) 242
59 Anon. (1989) 247
60 My Grown-Up Ears (1989) 248
61 The Best Meal I Ever Ate (1989) 254
62 Reading Aloud (1989) 257
63 Frustration - II (Final Scream) (1989) 262
64 Style (1989) 269
65 Zapping (1989) 272
66 Query (mid-1980s) 279
67 Medication (1991) 281
68 Notes on the Craft, Skill, Science, or Art of Missing (mid-1980s) 283
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