To Begin Again: Stories and Memoirs, 1908-1929

Overview

"I have never seen any reason to be dull," writes M. F. K. Fisher in To Begin Again, "and since I was less than four I have enjoyed entertaining and occasionally startling anyone who may be listening." From those first stories told at the family dinner table she has continued to startle and entertain new generations of readers over the decades of her long and interesting life. She ostensibly writes about food, but while doing so Fisher created a genre, another way to talk passionately about all the hungers and satisfactions of the human heart. W. ...
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Overview

"I have never seen any reason to be dull," writes M. F. K. Fisher in To Begin Again, "and since I was less than four I have enjoyed entertaining and occasionally startling anyone who may be listening." From those first stories told at the family dinner table she has continued to startle and entertain new generations of readers over the decades of her long and interesting life. She ostensibly writes about food, but while doing so Fisher created a genre, another way to talk passionately about all the hungers and satisfactions of the human heart. W. H. Auden called her "the best prose writer in America." Throughout her career Fisher made it a practice to circle back, returning often to her past in memoirs, stories, and journals. Less interested in the facts, perhaps, than in the truth that lies behind them, To Begin Again provides us with a new portrait of her early years, from her family's migration to California in 1912 to her first marriage in 1929. Some pieces were written as early as 1927, some as recently as 1990. All are suffused with her trademark wit, intelligence, and insight. Fisher speaks here of the people and events which first shaped her finely tuned and lasting appetites. During these years of "learning to live well gastronomically" she spent several rugged summers with Aunt Gwen, catching and frying fresh rock bass, carrying fried-egg sandwiches "greasily in our pockets on our long treks in every direction of that wild deserted country." This was when the young Fisher first felt the value of being nurtured in body and soul. Later during sensual family dinners free of the dietary strictures normally imposed by her absent grandmother, Fisher began to wonder about happiness and "how it seemed to be connected with open enjoyment of even a badly prepared dish that could be tasted without censure of the tasting." From the first glimpse of the precocious nineteen-year-old, keenly observant and eager for freedom, through the rich remembrances of Fisher in

The first volume of reminiscences by one of America's best-loved writers. "Vintage Fisher. . . . (Her diaries and stories) bathe her youth and beauty in a golden light like the stuff of Gustave Dore engravings, the light of a better place and a better time when people were still made out of heroics."--Washington Post Book World.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With seemingly photographic memory Fisher (1908-1992), the famous culinary writer recalls growing up in Southern California where her journalist father and snobbish, asocial mother moved in 1910, two years after her birth in Michigan. Rebelling against a stern grandmother who prohibited the use of spices, fats, alcohol and ``the five senses'' in the household, Fisher began ``learning to live well gastronomically'' around age six. She writes of spankings by her father, who had himself been physically abused as a child, and she divulges that for 25 years she imagined that a guardian spirit--a tiny ancient man--kept vigil under her bed while she slept. She rues her standoffish treatment of a Mexican classmate, revels in the ``escape hatch'' called San Francisco and describes a ring of girls who secretly disseminated sex information in boarding school. These warm reminiscences close as Fisher, a ``lazy bum'' in college, acts out a Scott-and-Zelda madcap fantasy with her husband, an English instructor. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679750826
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/23/1993
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Table of Contents

To Begin 3
1 Native Truths (1908-1952) 7
2 On Coveting (1912) 15
3 Tree Change (1912-1929) 19
4 A Few Notes About Aunt Gwen (1912-1927) 24
5 The First Kitchen (1912-1920) 31
6 An Innocence of Semantics (1912-1915) 41
7 Grandmother's Nervous Stomach (1913-1920) 50
8 I Chose Chicken a la King (1914-1920) 60
9 Mother and "Miss E " (1914-1945) 67
10 A Sweet and Timeless Shudder (1915-1953) 73
11 The Old Woman (1915-1916) 77
12 Gracie (1915-1921) 81
13 My Family's Escape Hatch: A Reminiscence (1915-1926) 108
14 The Broken Chain (1920) 114
15 Consider the End (1920) 120
16 Hellfire and All That (1922) 124
17 The Jackstraws (1922) 133
18 Tally (1923, 1928-1953) 138
19 Ridicklus (1924) 144
20 Mirrors and Salamanders (1927) 147
21 Figures in a Private Landscape 149
I Laguna, 1927: Journal 149
II Uncle Evans (1927) 166
III Examination Books: Biology 9 (1927-1928) 169
IV Oxy (1928-1934) 173
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