Barbara Kingsolver ranks high on my list of authors with whom I would love to have a lengthy chat (along with Diana Abu Jaber and Khaled Hosseini). Besides the fact that I admire her literary artistry, I am intrigued by Kingsolver’s spiritual and religious views. I tend, for example, to think Nathan Price in The Poisonwood Bible so deranged that Kingsolver could not have intended anyone to take him seriously as representative of evangelical missionaries. … But does this character suggest Kingsolver perceives missionaries or evangelicals generally in a negative light?
In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Kingsolver frequently references her rural childhood and observes that many of the small farmers she writes about are probably church-goers (though she mentions appreciatively that they keep their religion to themselves) (204-05). I assume Kingsolver, having grown up in such an environment herself, had a fair amount of exposure to Christian spirituality, if not from her family, at least from her neighbors. Regardless, she is now an evangelist for evolution, with a graduate degree in evolutionary biology. Continue reading
Barbara Kingsolver is #74 on the list of America’s most dangerous people, according to the author of a recent well-publicized book cited in Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (p. 236). I’m not sure how Kingsolver earned her stripes in that author’s opinion, but I would agree that her linguistic artistry, self-deprecating humor, and winsome enthusiasm for her cause impart a formidable ability to win converts to just about any position.Well, maybe not any. Actually, I was already in at least theoretical sympathy with Kingsolver’s commitment to local, organic food, so I didn’t need much convincing, but Kingsolver’s treatise broadened my understanding and deepened my convictions. (I just bought some bean and pepper plants for a nascent garden on the balcony of our condominium. So I’m a little late getting started … at least I’ll get a feel for container gardening.)
The members of the linguistics department where my husband is pursuing his master’s degree are the most social bunch of academics I’ve ever encountered–not that I mind. Families are always welcome, and I have developed my own friends among the students and spouses. Besides that, there’s the great food…and the bread. At nearly every social and pot luck, a fresh loaf of heavenly homemade bread appears, courtesy of B’s adviser. As a bread lover and inveterate bread machine baker myself, I began to quiz E on his baking secrets.
E quickly directed me to The Tassajara Bread Book, which issues from a Buddhist monastery in San Francisco that he himself had visited while residing in the area a couple of decades ago. I obtained the 25th Anniversary Edition from the library and intend to purchase my own copy as soon as I have exhausted my renewals. This edition was published in 1995 and includes a note in the back from Ed Brown, along with a few additional recipes. Continue reading
How are prayer, poetry, and food preparation related? Sufism, Arabic literature, and the culinary arts all contribute to the backdrop of Diana Abu-Jaber’s multifaceted second novel. As I was drawn into Abu-Jaber’s masterfully crafted world, I found myself increasingly aware of the art in the everyday circumstances of life. Continue reading