A Homemade Life

by Kathleen on February 11, 2011

Sometimes I’m grumpy about other people’s success.

It’s not an admirable quality, and it rarely serves me well, but there it is.

It’s kept me from reading Orangette for years.  The whole twenty-something-blogs-about-cooking-then-finds-love-and-gets-book-deal story just irritated me.  And the column in Bon Appetit didn’t help. But, as is so often the case, it was my loss because Molly Wizenberg is the real deal.

A Homemade Life is one of the best blog-to-book memoirs out there.  It’s a hard genre, and plenty of great bloggers have failed.  Great blog posts are relatively short, and though readers gradually understand the writer’s story, individual posts don’t have to fit into a narrative arc.  Not so in a book.  Too much recycled content irritates faithful readers and leaves new ones out of the loop.  It feels like somebody hit print and charged $25 for stuff you’ve already read for free.

Not so with A Homemade Life.  Just like the recipes that follow each essay, Molly worked from scratch.  She takes her time telling these stories – from childhood meals and a semester in Paris to her father’s sudden death and meeting her husband after he commented on her blog – and each one conjures the memory of a specific food.  She offers the recipes in the same conversational voice, so it feels like she’s right there in the kitchen with you.  Don’t worry, she says, and This is a good time to make any phone calls you’ve been putting off.  It’ll help pass the time.

I’m a decent cook.  I like cooking, and I’ve made some delicious meals, but I’m not particularly ambitious in the kitchen.  I read A Homemade Life for the stories and assumed that the recipes were just there to add character.  But Molly’s voice is so clear, so reassuring, that I want to make everything.

And I think I just might.

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