Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen
An Autobiography of My Appetites

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A Rabelaisian celebration of appetite, complete with savory recipes, that genuinely satisfies.


From acclaimed novelist Kate Christensen, Blue Plate Special is a mouthwatering literary memoir about an unusual upbringing and the long, winding path to happiness.

“To taste fully is to live fully.” For Kate Christensen, food and eating have always been powerful connectors to self and world—“a subterranean conduit to sensuality, memory, desire.” Her appetites run deep; in her own words, she spent much of her life as “a hungry, lonely, wild animal looking for happiness and stability.” Now, having found them at last, in this passionate feast of a memoir she reflects upon her journey of innocence lost and wisdom gained, mistakes made and lessons learned, and hearts broken and mended.
   In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and Ruth Reichl, Blue Plate Special is a narrative in which food—eating it, cooking it, reflecting on it—becomes the vehicle for unpacking a life. Christensen explores her history of hunger—not just for food but for love and confidence and a sense of belonging—with a profound honesty, starting with her unorthodox childhood in 1960s Berkeley as the daughter of a mercurial legal activist who ruled the house with his fists. After a whirlwind adolescent awakening, Christensen strikes out to chart her own destiny within the literary world and the world of men, both equally alluring and dangerous. Food of all kinds, from Ho Hos to haute cuisine, remains an evocative constant throughout, not just as sustenance but as a realm of experience unto itself, always reflective of what is going on in her life. She unearths memories—sometimes joyful, sometimes painful—of the love between mother and daughter, sister and sister, and husband and wife, and of the times when the bonds of love were broken. Food sustains her as she endures the pain of these ruptures and fuels her determination not to settle for anything less than the love and contentment for which she’s always yearned.
   The physical and emotional sensuality that defines Christensen’s fiction resonates throughout the pages of Blue Plate Special. A vibrant celebration of life in all its truth and complexity, this book is about embracing the world through the transformative power of food: it’s about listening to your appetites, about having faith, and about learning what is worth holding on to and what is not.


About Kate Christensen

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KATE CHRISTENSEN is the author of six previous novels, most recently The Astral. The Great Man won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has written reviews and essays for numerous publications, most recently The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Tin House, Elle, and Open City. She also has a new column in The Wall Street Journal, "With a Twist." Her blog can be accessed at:

Author Residence: Portland, Maine

Author Hometown: California
Published July 9, 2013 by Anchor. 370 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Cooking. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Blue Plate Special
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

WSJ online

Reviewed by MAX WATMAN on Jul 31 2013

In "Blue Plate Special," Ms. Christensen has deftly tucked food into every scenario, every relationship and every crossroads....She recounts all of this very well, creating a homey and vivid portrait of a woman who has dedicated herself to sitting in a room—sometimes of her own—and writing good books, including this one.

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on Jun 25 2013

A Rabelaisian celebration of appetite, complete with savory recipes, that genuinely satisfies.

Read Full Review of Blue Plate Special: An Autobi... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Reviewed by Sally D. Ketchum on Jul 25 2013

...Ms. Christensen’s work is captivating and often brilliant in its sensuality whether the subject is an unattainable man or lamb’s ear lettuce.

Read Full Review of Blue Plate Special: An Autobi... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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