I’m feeling like a dick on this one, but I didn’t have the reading experience I was hoping for with such glowing reviews. I didn’t hate it, or even dislike it, but I didn’t really like it all that much either. I had two main problems here. The first may or may not have been exacerbated by the second, but as of right now, I have no way of knowing.
Before I get to my issues, this book is chock full of history, memoir, and food rethought. That part of it, the subject matter, worked for me. Twitty travels through history and across the South visiting and revisiting both his own experiences with Southern food, but also the idea of Southern food in general. He goes into the complexities of how history has shaped our ideas of food today in ways we just don’t think about it. He clearly knows his stuff, and it was fun to see him use his knowledge to really delve into a subject he obviously loves.
The way it was written and the way I read it just weren’t the best vehicle for me to experience all that passion and knowledge. My first issue was that it felt scattered. He jumps from thought to thought, subject to subject, from historical musings, to anecdotes about his life, to times he talked with someone about something, to whatever else, constantly. It was extremely disorienting. I wanted a lot more structure in this than he seemed to want to give. I was constantly having to rewind to see if I could figure out what was going on and who or what he was referring to now. As I mentioned above, this problem was mostly likely made worse by my much bigger issue, but since I can’t get around that right now, I don’t have any way of knowing if I would have cared about this if I’d read the book a different way.
My second and bigger issue was that I did the audiobook and it’s narrated by the author, and I do not at all care for the way he went about doing that. I don’t know if there’s actually a nice way to say that somebody isn’t a good audio narrator, but I really do not think he was the person for this job, no matter how close to the subject matter he felt. I have had books ruined by audio narrators before, and while this one wasn’t ruined really, it was dramatically lessened. I can only imagine what a good narrator would have done with this material. It is *extremely* rare that an author has the chops to narrate their own books, and even the better ones that can mostly pull it off (i.e. Neil Gaiman) wisely let someone else do it most of the time. If I ever wrote a book you can bet your butts I would not narrate it. I sort of blame myself on this one, because I always, always check an audio sample before I choose to do the audio on a book, specifically because I’ve been burned before, and I did not do that here, for whatever reason. So it is very possible my meh feelings about this book would not exist if I had done that and just read the hard copy.
In fact, I may pick this back up in a couple of years and do just that.
Read Harder Challenge 2021: Read a food memoir by an author of color.