Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
I'm not sure why the author chose to make the famous real-life couple of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas important secondary characters in this book about a Vietnamese cook. It really only served as a distraction, when she could easily have used a fictional couple.
There was a lot about this book that annoyed me. There's no real story, just a rambling set of recollections and events narrated in first person by the cook, styled as if he is confiding in his lover. This telling jumps around in time and place, from paragraph to paragraph, making it hard to follow. The continuous food metaphors become overbearing. I get it. Yes, yes, I get it.
And yet. The story is so full of emotions, of love and resentment and regret and longing and lust and hope and need and loneliness and resignation, that it is still a compelling read, for all its annoyances.
Paperback copy, bought secondhand on impulse when I was looking for another of this author's books.