The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading (Hardcover)
Garner gathers a literary chorus to capture the joys of reading and eating in this comic, personal classic.
Reading and eating, like Krazy and Ignatz, Sturm und Drang, prosciutto and melon, Simon and Schuster, and radishes and butter, have always, for me, simply gone together. The book you’re holding is a product of these combined gluttonies.
Dwight Garner, the beloved New York Times critic and the author of Garner’s Quotations, serves up the intertwined pleasures of books and food. The product of a lifetime of obsessively reading, eating, and every combination therein, The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading is a charming, emotional memoir, one that only Garner could write. In it, he records the voices of great writers and the stories from his life that fill his mind as he moves through the sections of the day and of this book: breakfast, lunch, shopping, the occasional nap, drinking, and dinner.
Through his lifelong infatuation with these twin joys, we meet the man behind the pages and the plates, and a portrait of Garner, eager and insatiable, emerges. He writes with tenderness and humor about his mayonnaise-laden childhood in West Virginia and Naples, Florida (and about his father’s famous peanut butter and pickle sandwich), his mind-opening marriage to a chef from a foodie family (“Cree grew up taking leftover frog legs to school in her lunch box”), and the words and dishes closest to his heart. This is a book to be savored, though it may just whet your appetite for more.
"One of the most eccentric memoirs I’ve read in years: Garner, a longtime New York Times critic, boils (dices and purées) his existence down to a pair of obsessions—books and food—so completely, it’s both honest and hard to say where the man ends and M.F.K. Fisher begins." —Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune
"The phrase “upstairs delicatessen” was coined by Beat critic Seymour Krim to describe memory, and Garner raids his to serve up a feast of vivid recollections personal and literary . . . All converges in this zesty concoction of funny and poignant autobiographical anecdotes, incisive and wide-ranging reflections, and striking, often hilarious quotes from a literary smorgasbord." —Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"An 'omnidirectionally hungry human being,' Garner has always paid attention to what has entered and exited the mouths and minds of writers. The narrative passes seamlessly between quotes and stories of literary and cultural greats, and this undeniably enjoyable wander through digestive habit has absurd and hilarious heights . . . Garner’s wit and dexterity with a quote will keep any reader with something tasty to eat or drink in hand captivated . . . A wonderful mix of culinary memoir, literary reference, how-to in indulgence. Grab some snacks and dig in." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Delicious. Garner dishes up a plethora of tasty morsels for literary foodies to nosh on.” —Publishers Weekly