Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

Narrator Cassandra Campbell is the best reason to buy THE LOST ART OF MIXING by Erica Bauermeister, a followup to her "The School of Essential Ingredients." The story is character driven, and features Lillian, a chef and restauranteur dealing with the pressures of change and loss, who comes to depend on the new people in her life. Lillian runs a cooking school, and has friends who may sometimes resemble the cast of episodes on Kitchen Nightmares, but who must all accept change and work together to succeed. Campbell as reader is a talented performer with an innate sensitivity toward what motivates people, and so does much more than merely read the words, as many self-read authors or amateur readers do. (It is my contention that authors should not read their own novels, although biographies and non-fiction is appropriate, and, of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule. An example of one whose author should not have read her novel is the recent "Scent of Darkness" by Margot Berwin. A rather boring monotone is taken which would have been transformed into a memorable listening experience by the skills of a Campbell or a Barbara Rosenblat. Few writers are also good actors, nor do they apply the same techniques of story arc and fleshing out the characters in audible format that they may have achieved on the page.) The new Bauermeister novel has no murders or chase scenes, and so is not "a page-turner," as they say. Rather, it is a reflective novel combining the love of food with the love of company, with insights into friendship and how to accept what life offers, which is not merely cheap thrills. That mix, these days, is becoming a lost art.  

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