Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cooking for Gracie by Keith Dixon

I reviewed Dixon's novel, the Art of Losing, a year ago. Dixon came across my review and left a nice comment so I figured I'd read his newest book, Cooking for Gracie, when it came out.

I got around to it and I enjoyed it. Unlike Art of Losing, this is a memoir and not a novel. Dixon enjoys cooking. He and his wife have their first child, Gracie, who is born four weeks premature. Dixon finds that his life is turned all topsy-turvy and he has to make adjustments from his pre-kid life (go figure).

I have to admit I was skeptical about liking this. As any parent can tell you, life changes dramatically when you add kids to the mix. I thought to myself, "Gee, Keith. Really? You don't have time and energy to do something you enjoy anymore because you have a kid? Welcome to the club". It had the potential to get worse. Dixon goes on to detail the first year of the life of his child and the changes he and his wife have to make.

If there's one thing I really can't stand, it's new parents. I may have been the same irritating way but I really hate the "Look what Junior is doing!" accolades and the "discovery" of parenting techniques practiced by gazillions of parents before them. Your kid isn't special and you aren't reinventing parenting. It's all been done before for thousands of years. So I really had my doubts. I figured in the end I'd be reading some good writing but rolling my eyes at the story itself.

I was wrong. Dixon didn't go too overboard. And Gracie is special in a way. There was some sort of genetic disorder involved that is pretty much fatal to the kid before it's born 99.9999% of the time. So Keith and his wife were fortunate.

And while I'm complaining about all these things I thought the book might be, it really wasn't. It's a strange book in that it is part cookbook. Almost every chapter, each which roughly covers a month of Gracie's life, ends with recipes that Dixon fixed for one reason or another. When Gracie initially had troubles after birth with eating, Dixon made some changes hoping to influence his wife's nutrition and in turn, Gracie's. When Gracie wasn't finding a sleep pattern, other changes were made and other things were cooked. As Gracie became more attached to Dixon's wife than to him, Dixon adjusted his attitudes. When Gracie got teeth, yet more changes.

So despite not being entirely positive about this book (I really doubt I would have even wanted to read it if not for Dixon's comment), I found myself enjoying it a lot. I fixed a couple of the recipes and enjoyed them. It would have been nice as a two-book set, one the memoir and the other the cookbook. If I had bought a copy instead of borrowing a library copy, I'd have a tough time figuring out where to house the book; the kitchen or the bookshelf.

Although it took me a long time to find something worthwhile, it was nice finally reading something this year that was a good story (with good writing to boot).

1 comment:

Keith Dixon said...

Once again, grateful for your willingness to give my stuff a read. i understand your doubts about this book! (and i hate new parents, too...)

thanks again for giving me a chance!