Book Reviews

The Poet’s Guide to Food, Drink, & Desire
by Gaylord Brewer

The Banquet of Donny & Ari: Scenes from the Opera
by Naomi Guttman

Cooked
by Michael Pollan

Revenge Baking
by Randon Billings Noble

Biting the Apple
by Jeanie Greensfelder

Best Food Writing 2014
edited by Holly Hughes

Creamy and Crunchy
by Jon Krampner

Biting through the Skin
by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Feeding Orchids to Slugs
by Ann Mah

Mastering the Art of French Eating
by Florencia Clifford

Ivan Ramen
by Ivan Ramen

Third Thursday Potluck Cookbook
by Nancy Vienneau

Mint Tea & Minarets
by Kitty Morse

Prospero’s Kitchen
by Diana Farr Louis and June Marino

Mushroom: A Global History
by Cynthia Bertelsen

One Straw Revolution
by Masanobu Fukuoka

Fried Walleye & Cherry Pie
by Peggy Wolff

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
by Annia Ciezadlo

unrest
by Chloe Yelena Miller

The Hungry Ear
by Kevin Young

Best Food Writing 2012
by Holly Hughes

Dinner: a Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach

My Kitchen Wars
by Betty Fussell

American Cookery
by Laura Kalpakian

Apron Anxiety
by Alyssa Shelasky

Cucina Povera
by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin

The Social Life of Coffee
by Brian Cowan

The Raw and the Cooked
by Jim Harrison

Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet

Horsemen of the Esophagus
by Jason Fagone

Coffee Philosophy for Everyone
by Scott F. Parker and Michael W. Austin

Corked
by Kathryn Borel

Food Rules
by Michael Pollan

On Reading
by Rilke and Ruskin

America the Edible
by Adam Richman

Interview with the author of Party Girls,
Diane Goodman

Death Warmed Over
by Lisa Rogak

How to Cook a Crocodile
by Bonnie Lee Black

Great Food,
All Day Long

by Maya Angelou

Love Bites: Marital Skirmishes in the Kitchen
by Christopher Hirst

Best Food Writing 2011
edited by Holly Hughes

Balzac's Omelette
by Anka Muhlstein

The Little House Cookbook
by Barbara M. Walker

Muffins and Mayhem
by Suzanne Beecher

As Always, Julia:
The Letters of Julia Child and Avis De Voto

More...

Boozehound
by Jason Wilson

The Particular Sadness
of Lemon Cake

by Aimee Bender

The Bluberry Years
by Jim Minick

Livingston and the Tomato
by A. W. Livingston

Tomatoland
by Barry Estabrook

Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey
by Robert V. Camuto

Best Food Writing 2010 edited
by Holly Hughes

Curry
by Lizzie Collingham

Four Fish
by Paul Greenberg

The Physiology
of Taste

by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Far Flung
and Well Fed

by R. W. Apple, Jr.

The Food of a Younger Land
by Mark Kurlansky

The Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball

Ratio
by Michael Ruhlman

Cooking with Italian Grandmothers
by Jessica Theroux

Blood, Bones & Butter
by Gabrielle Hamilton

Candyfreak
by Steve Almond

The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book
by Alice B. Toklas

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain

Appetite City
by William Grimes

Twain's Feast
by Andrew Beahrs

97 Orchard
by Jane Ziegelman

Born Round
by Frank Bruni

Cakewalk
by Kate Moses

Full English by
Tom Parker Bowles

Following Fish by
Samanth Subramanian

Eating Animals by
Jonathan Safran Foer

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese
by Eric LeMay

For You, Mom. Finally
by Ruth Reichl

Farm City
by Novella Carpenter

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

I ♥ Macarons
by Hisako Ogita

The Hamburger
by Josh Ozersky

Best Food Writing 2009 edited
by Holly Hughes

Gastrology
by Archestratos

Eat, Memory edited by Amanda Hesser

Eat My Globe
by Simon Majumdar

Eating
by Jason Epstein

What We Eat When We Eat Alone
by Deborah Madison

The Sweet Life
in Paris

by David Lebovitz

Modern Spice
by Monica Bhide

unrest

 

by Chloe Yelena Miller
Finishing Line Press, 2013
28 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62229-206-6

Review by Eric LeMay

Once, when I was a young, a well-known poet whom I spied floating through New York’s Penn Station, as though on her way up the slope of Parnassus, inscribed her book to me, “Although we are not of this world, we must live in it.”

At the time, I loved the inscription. I still do, but in the decades I’ve spent since then with poems, I’ve come to question the Romantic commonplace that poets and poems are airy things, poised somewhere between everyday life and the eternal verities. Poetry, after all, is the most concrete of all the genres: it insists not only on words as meaningful signs, but also on words as sensual experiences. We sound words, rhyme words. We arrange them into rhythms, so they roll off our tongues. Poems remind us that, although we may glimpse the divine, we’re inescapably physical creatures. We think and feel with our fragile, wonderful, finite bodies.

This truth struck me anew as I read Chloe Yelena Miller’s lovely chapbook, unrest. In twenty-two lyric poems, Miller gives us a vision that reckons with loss and love, desire and distance, all the while aware of the very human acts that make us who we are. In “Dying at Home, 1937,” the poem opens with a bedside scene. A father is about to die:

His daughter massaged his eyelids with careful thumbs,
as if petting a goldfish.

That goldfish grounds the experience, lets us grasp it as readers. And it’s Miller’s awareness of how we moor our greatest concerns in the small touch that gives her collection its power. As the speaker in “Cubist Spring” says:

Some people believe in god, the words we gave him
so he could speak to us. I believe in the physical:

Your knee raising to step into the shower.
The excuse of night to press fully against you.

So it’s no wonder that food runs throughout Miller’s poems. True chefs know a good meal does more to comfort us when we’re mourning than a preacher’s platitudes. We’re fed and we feel better. Perhaps not well, perhaps not healed, but cared for and, however modestly, uplifted. Food, in sorrow, lets us share our grief, just as in joy it lets us share life’s sweetness. When the speaker of Miller’s “Color of the Sea” confesses, “I spoon seasonal mint gelato into my poems,” I'm grateful for the taste.