During a recent family visit, I was asked by my father-in-law what I like about living here in the San Francisco Bay area. While my list remains complicated (I am still in the flux of feeling excited over the trillions of things to do here, and missing the small town comforts of Bozeman) one item that remains atop my “likes” list is the literary scene. There is so much vibe here…an endless supply of writerly opportunities.
Last night, I attended a book reading at Palo Alto’s Books Inc. book store by Kate Moses. The reading was from her new tome, Cakewalk: A Memoir.
Moses made herself lyrically famous and prize-worthy with the publication of her previous novel, Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath along with her editorial work at Salon.com and upon compiling a couple anthologies of essays written about and for women and mothers.
From the jacket description of Cakewalk:
“…Filled with the abundance and joy that were so lacking in Kate’s youth, Cakewalk is a wise, loving tribute to life in all its sweetness as well as its bitterness and, ultimately, a recipe for forgiveness.”
Sprinkled throughout the book are family heirloom recipes, perfected by Moses herself, as they pertain to the adjacent familial anecdotes.
“…There is the mysteriously erotic German Chocolate Cake implicated in a birds-and-bees speech when Kate was seven, the gingerbread people her mother baked for Christmas the year Kate officially realized she was fat, the chocolate chip cookies Kate used to curry favor during a hilariously gruesome adolescence, and the brownies she baked for her idol, the legendary M.F.K. Fisher, who pronounced them “delicious.””
Moses delivered a humorous, lovely reading last night and–perhaps best of all–she brought with her the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies and brownies–the brownie recipe that was just printed in the New York Times–which are truly melt-in-your-mouth TO DIE FOR.
At the end of her reading and during a brief Q&A session, I asked Ms. Moses what her advice is to burgeoning writers like myself who struggle to break into the presently unwelcoming publishing industry.
“Keep writing,” was her summation. “Things will get better soon.”
Having shared a brief story of her first experience with publication–a short story in a local SF rag when she was twenty-four–she said she wasn’t ready to be published, that she didn’t know her own voice yet and wasn’t ready to put it out there into the world. But by forty, she was more than ready and her persistence at the keyboard paid off.