Saturday, May 10, 2014

New in Paperback: Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen

PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author, Kate Christensen, delivers a stirring ands sometimes heartbreaking read in Blue Plate Special (Anchor).

Ostensibly a memoir about “the transformative nature of food,” Christensen’s first work of non-fiction is so much more than that. Despite the addition of a decent helping of interesting recipes, Blue Plate Special delves deeply into the psyche of a brilliant and complicated author. Perhaps even more deeply than Christensen initially intended or planned.

Christensen deals with her father’s violence, her own abuse by a high school teacher and her subsequent sexual confusion that was the result. Though this material is so moving -- and brilliantly handled -- it’s difficult to see beyond it when you look back, there truly is so much more, much of it viewed through an interesting lens of food.

The author was born in 1962, and so we travel with her through the 1970s, 80s and beyond, indulging, experiencing and even weeping with her through glorious meals and all types of experience.

Christensen demonstrates that she is not only a writer with a great deal to say, she says it so beautifully we don’t want the journey to end, even when it’s difficult to watch.

A note: there was an elegant postscript to the book in Elle magazine earlier this year where the author shares the resolution to the story of her sexual abuse. It’s a resolution that occurred after and because of the publication of the book. If you’re wondering if Blue Plate Special is a book you’d like to read, that article will convince you. As always, Christensen is stunning. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

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