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The Book of Difficult Fruit Summary and Reviews

The Book of Difficult Fruit

Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with recipes)

by Kate Lebo

The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo X
The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo
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  • Published Apr 2021
    416 pages
    Genre: Essays

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Book Summary

Inspired by twenty-six fruits, the essayist, poet, and pie lady Kate Lebo expertly blends natural, culinary, medical, and personal history.

A is for Aronia, berry member of the apple family, clothes-stainer, superfruit with reputed healing power. D is for Durian, endowed with a dramatic rind and a shifty odor―peaches, old garlic. M is for Medlar, name-checked by Shakespeare for its crude shape, beloved by gardeners for its flowers. Q is for Quince, which, fresh, gives off the scent of "roses and citrus and rich women's perfume" but if eaten raw is so astringent it wicks the juice from one's mouth.

In this work of unique invention, these and other difficult fruits serve as the central ingredients of twenty-six lyrical essays (and recipes!) that range from deeply personal to botanical, from culinary to medical, from humorous to philosophical. The entries are associative, often poetic, taking unexpected turns and giving sideways insights into life, relationships, self-care, modern medicine, and more. What if the primary way you show love is to bake, but your partner suffers from celiac disease? Why leave in the pits for Willa Cather's Plum Jam? How can we rely on bodies as fragile as the fruits that nourish them?

Lebo's unquenchable curiosity leads us to intimate, sensuous, enlightening contemplations. The Book of Difficult Fruit is the very best of food writing: graceful, surprising, and ecstatic.
Includes black and white illustrations

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Lebo considers fruits of all flavors in this sensationally chaotic compendium.... Unusual and piquant, this off-kilter collection will hit the spot with readers hungry for something a little different." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Eloquent, well-researched, and thoughtfully conceived and organized, this genre-defying book will appeal to foodies as well as those who appreciate both fine writing and the pleasures of domestic arts and crafts. A one-of-a-kind reading experience." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Intriguing [and] wonder-filled. Lovers of food and nature writing will appreciate Lebo's rangy, researched ode to wildness." - Booklist

"A genre-blending work that will intrigue readers of literary nonfiction, personal essays, or food history." - Library Journal

"[A] glorious mash-up of memoir, love note, and cookbook...Every sentence is as sensuous as the first bite into a cold, juicy plum." - Vulture

"I loved this sage and sensuous book, and was enraptured by its curious tour through a Wunderkammer of plants, history, and personal narrative. Kate Lebo's introspection and intelligence gleam on every page as she looks inward and outward through these colorful lenses. Her essays are ripe with illumination, enchantment, and a dash of the haunted." - Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood

"With rich, puckery prose, Kate Lebo takes us on an engaging journey into her culinary world and offers surprisingly complex stories of neglected fruits that need a little more coaxing than your average blueberry. Here, too, are uncommon recipes for treats like faceclock coffee, gooseberry cheese, juniper bitters, and thimbleberry kvass. And Lebo even generously includes the Osage orange. Its best use? Ha! Read this book and find out." - Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile

This information about The Book of Difficult Fruit was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kate Lebo

Kate Lebo is the author of the cookbook Pie School and the poetry chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and is the coeditor, with Samuel Ligon, of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter & Booze. Her essay about listening through hearing loss, "The Loudproof Room," originally appeared in New England Review and was anthologized in The Best American Essays 2015. She lives in Spokane, Washington, where she is an apprentice cheesemaker to Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm.

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