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Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me along the Way

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Overview

Bestselling author Ruth Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed and openhearted investigation of her mother's life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Looking to her mother's letters and diaries, Reichl confronts the painful transition her mother made from a hopeful young woman to an increasingly unhappy older one and realizes the tremendous sacrifices she made to make sure her daughter's life would not be as disappointing as her own.

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2009 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New. Title page is inscribed. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 112 p. Audience: ... General/trade. Bestselling author Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed, openhearted investigation of her mother's life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Bestselling author Ruth Reichl embarks on a clear-eyed and openhearted investigation of her mother's life, piecing together the journey of a woman she comes to realize she never really knew. Looking to her mother's letters and diaries, Reichl confronts the painful transition her mother made from a hopeful young woman to an increasingly unhappy older one and realizes the tremendous sacrifices she made to make sure her daughter's life would not be as disappointing as her own.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594202162
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/21/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 7.28 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Reichl is the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine and the author of the bestsellers Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples. She has been the restaurant critic at the New York Times and the food editor at the Los Angeles Times.

Biography

Take equal parts family history and food history, simmer with humor, and you get Ruth Reichl's irresistible, self-styled genre: the culinary confessional (recipes included). A renowned restaurant critic who left the Los Angeles Times for The New York Times before moving on to the editor-in-chief post at Gourmet magazine, Reichl (pronounced "Rye-shill") understands herself—and human nature—as well as she does food.

Reichl, who arrived at the Times in 1993, changed the way the newspaper reviewed restaurants; her columns were witty, high-spirited, honest, irreverent, and determined, it seemed, to demystify the intimidating world of high-end dining establishments. Although her innovations were maddening to some in the old guard, Dwight Garner, writing in Salon, claimed "Reichl has been a real democratizing force," and lauded her "outsider's perspective about the snobbery and pretension of some well-known New York restaurants, and…the sexism that often confronts women while eating out."

1999's Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, Reichl's first memoir, was an unsparing look at her chaotic childhood—one that seemed unlikely to produce a first-rate food writer. Reichl's mother, a manic-depressive whom Reichl describes as "dangerous" in the kitchen, was so undone by domestic duties that she poisoned the family with a bacteria-infested dinner meant to celebrate her son's engagement. Reichl got the better of the situation by taking on the cooking tasks herself, and later left New York for California, landing in Berkeley as the co-owner of a collective restaurant and launching a life and that has always revolved around food.

Stylistically, Reichl is a descendant of legendary food writer M. F. K. Fisher, whose essays and memoirs braided personal autobiography with culinary commentary. In Tender at the Bone, Reichl takes the reader from her childhood in New York to her work as a chef in the '70s, her early restaurant writing, and the intersection of her passions for food, writing, and certain men. As The New Yorker put it, "Reichl writes with gusto, and her story has all of the ingredients of a modern fairy tale: hard work, weird food, and endless curiosity."

In Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table (2001), Reichl picks up where she left off in the first book, this time covering the dissolution of her first marriage, her father's death, her second marriage, and the birth of her son. The book includes recipes, which may seem incongruous, but for Reichl, for whom all aspects of life—especially the sensual—are interconnected, the combination works. The result is sweet, sad, unruly, and engaging, all at the same time.

Good To Know

To help her sneak undetected into restaurants she was reviewing for The New York Times, Reichl maintained a disguise wardrobe of phony eyeglasses and five wigs.

The cook-turned-critic-turned-memoirist started her working life at the other end of publishing—her earliest job was as a book designer.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 16, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Michigan, 1968; M.A., University of Michigan, 1970
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

The Mim Tales 9

What Girls Can Do 33

Finding Mr. Right 45

Idle Aptitudes 62

Chaos 74

What We Are Made For 85

Dear Dr. Portnoy 95

Rainbows 111

Tsunami of Pain 120

Grateful 129

Gifts 136

Acknowledgments 141

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2009

    not a great gift...

    I gave this book to my Mother (an avid reader) after reading a review. Her take was that it was bleak and left a hangover of sadness, so I thought I'd better read it and share the misery. Bleak, sad, a woman's life frustrated and a daughter who who can at least claim to have succeeded in her Mother's hope that her own life be more fulfilled. I can't suggest this book as a gift, or even a diverting read. sad.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Rerun

    If you have read any of Ruth Reichl's other books this is a rerun and a short one at that. She writes an interesting book, but not this one. I felt stung having paid money for material from her other books.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2009

    A good read, but a poor value.

    I liked Ruth Reichl's other books, so I was interested in reading this book. I was especially interested in learning more about Reichl's relationship with her mother. Reichl's writing was fine, and her stories were insightful, making this a good read. It would make a good book for book clubs, as there were many topics that made the reader ponder the changing roles of women in society, and the opportunities open to them, over the past several decades. However, the small size of the book made me feel that the story was over too soon and the relatively hefty price made me feel that, in the end, the book did not quite justify its purchase price.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2010

    Enjoyable

    Enjoyable as all Ruth Reichle's books, but not as entertaining as Tender to the bone or some of the others.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 19, 2009

    Poignant & Lovely

    I bought this book knowing full well that our book group would enjoy it before we even cracked a page. Having read all of Ms. Reichl's books, and many of her forewords, I was certain that this would work her magic as well. It did. We all enjoyed the read very much. It resulted in conversations about our own mothers and about how difficult relationships can be, for so many different reasons.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted July 14, 2010

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    Posted January 9, 2010

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    Posted May 9, 2009

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    Posted May 11, 2009

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    Posted July 30, 2009

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    Posted June 23, 2009

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    Posted June 12, 2009

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    Posted December 22, 2009

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    Posted June 10, 2009

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    Posted May 21, 2009

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