Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

In case you missed it: Ruth Reichl on M.F.K. Fisher

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Jul• 03•19

I discovered M.F.K. Fisher in my twenties, not from her many memoirs and books about food, but by reading Sister Age. It’s an odd little book. As the title suggests, it’s about aging and features essays of sorts about ghosts, elderly women on a sea voyage,  encountering death, and facing one’s later years. And, as in all her writing, Fisher manages to espouse her bold and deliberate views on the lush pleasures of life.

I then devoured all her books and memoirs on food and cooking  from The Gastronomical Me to How to Cook a Wolf and upon reading them, felt like I had joined a secret sisterhood of women who truly appreciated the sensual pleasures of food and cooking. As Reichl notes, “To Mary Frances food was a metaphor for living.”

Ruth Reichl’s beautiful tribute and memory of her last visit with Fischer is a worthwhile read. Ruth Reichl on M.F.K. Fischer Lifetime of Joyous Eat is here at lithub. And if you haven’t read Reich’s memoir, Tender at the Bone,  I highly recommend it. Here’s Fisher’s website that includes a list of her 27 books and the delightful news that an unpublished novel was discovered then published in 2016. Finally, because I’m hoping to pique your interest in this remarkable writer, here’s an interview with Bill Moyers.

This interview contains one of my favorite all-time passages written by Fisher: “Once I was lying with my head back, listening to a long program of radio music from New York, with Toscanini drawing fine blood from his gang. I was hardly conscious of the sound, with my mind anyway. And when it ended, my two ears, which I had never thought of as cup-like, were so full of silent tears that as I sat up, they drenched and darkened by whole front with little gouts of brine. I felt amazed. Beyond my embarrassment in a group of near friends, for the music I heard was not the kind that I thought I liked, and the salty water had rolled from my half-closed eyes like October rain, with no sting to it, but perhaps promising a good winter.”

Perhaps this gives you a glimpse of why I’m such a fan.

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