The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading (Hardcover)
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Garner gathers a literary chorus to capture the joys of reading and eating in this comic, personal classic.
Reading and eating, like Krazy and Ignatz, Sturm und Drang, prosciutto and melon, Simon and Schuster, and radishes and butter, have always, for me, simply gone together. The book you’re holding is a product of these combined gluttonies.
Dwight Garner, the beloved New York Times critic and the author of Garner’s Quotations, serves up the intertwined pleasures of books and food. The product of a lifetime of obsessively reading, eating, and every combination therein, The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading is a charming, emotional memoir, one that only Garner could write. In it, he records the voices of great writers and the stories from his life that fill his mind as he moves through the sections of the day and of this book: breakfast, lunch, shopping, the occasional nap, drinking, and dinner.
Through his lifelong infatuation with these twin joys, we meet the man behind the pages and the plates, and a portrait of Garner, eager and insatiable, emerges. He writes with tenderness and humor about his mayonnaise-laden childhood in West Virginia and Naples, Florida (and about his father’s famous peanut butter and pickle sandwich), his mind-opening marriage to a chef from a foodie family (“Cree grew up taking leftover frog legs to school in her lunch box”), and the words and dishes closest to his heart. This is a book to be savored, though it may just whet your appetite for more.
About the Author
Dwight Garner is a book critic for The New York Times and was previously the senior editor of The New York Times Book Review. His essays and criticism have also appeared in The New Republic, Harper’s Magazine, Slate, and other publications. He is the author of Garner's Quotations.
Named a Best Book of 2023 by Amazon and Powell Books'
“For those of us who live to read and eat, this book is a feast.” —Jennifer Reese, The New York Times
"The Upstairs Delicatessen, [Garner's] delightful, quote-stuffed memoir, tracks the evolution of his reading habits ('Autobiography, for me, quickly edges into bibliography') and pairs that appetite with another, for food . . . what makes it as satisfying as that midnight cheeseburger, is the same formula that keeps Garner’s reviews fresh and entertaining week after week: his eagerness to amuse and the rolling canter of his prose–embellished, always, by his notorious addiction to metaphor." —Adam Begley, Times Literary Supplement
“Memoir, thoughts about food, and literary criticism are stacked, in The Upstairs Delicatessen, like the bright layers of a Venetian cookie . . . One nice thing about Garner’s book is that he doesn’t just go for the classics. Younger or more recently published writers like Bryan Washington, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Anthony Veasna So all have a place at his table." —Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker
“Not only sits alongside Liebling’s Between Meals, and Trillin’s Tummy Trilogy as one of most beautifully written books about food (and reading about food) I’ve read. But is so lyrical and lovely and funny too. An instant classic.” —Tom Parker Bowles, author of Fortnum & Mason: Time for Tea
“Garner, whose book reviews are a highlight of the Times culture pages, serves up a commonplace book composed of literary quotations, advice for living, recipes, and a heaping side order of memoir. . . . Garner’s mind—his 'upstairs delicatessen'—is generous, excellent company.” —The New Yorker
"One of the most eccentric memoirs I’ve read in years: Garner, a longtime New York Times critic, boils (dices and purées) his existence down to a pair of obsessions—books and food—so completely, it’s both honest and hard to say where the man ends and M.F.K. Fisher begins." —Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune
"The phrase “upstairs delicatessen” was coined by Beat critic Seymour Krim to describe memory, and Garner raids his to serve up a feast of vivid recollections personal and literary . . . All converges in this zesty concoction of funny and poignant autobiographical anecdotes, incisive and wide-ranging reflections, and striking, often hilarious quotes from a literary smorgasbord." —Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"An 'omnidirectionally hungry human being,' Garner has always paid attention to what has entered and exited the mouths and minds of writers. The narrative passes seamlessly between quotes and stories of literary and cultural greats, and this undeniably enjoyable wander through digestive habit has absurd and hilarious heights . . . Garner’s wit and dexterity with a quote will keep any reader with something tasty to eat or drink in hand captivated . . . A wonderful mix of culinary memoir, literary reference, how-to in indulgence. Grab some snacks and dig in." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Delicious. Garner dishes up a plethora of tasty morsels for literary foodies to nosh on.” —Publishers Weekly