Never google the author of a memoir if you want to have a bias-free reading experience. I googled Gabrielle Hamilton and throughout Blood, Bones, and Butter
, whenever she mentioned her sister Melissa, I couldn't help wondering how Hamilton could betray someone who was there for her as much as Melissa was by having an affair with Melissa's husband
. It colored my opinion of Hamilton as a person and I wish I'd never conducted that search.Blood, Bones, and Butter
is prettily written, although the author does some confusing jumping around within her personal timeline and changes tenses in weird places a couple of times. She tells some gross anecdotes that in another voice would sound way too "HI I'M SUPPOSED TO BE SHOCKING!" but they don't read that way at all in this book -- they're just Hamilton discussing another bit of her life that happened to be pretty nasty.
I really enjoyed reading about her dad's parties (Hamilton tells a good story, especially when it involves food) and her interesting and strange childhood, and how she climbed her way up to where she is today, but when the narrative got closer to the present, it became an angry little ode to bitterness.
I mean, I get it, this is supposed to be unflinchingly honest and REAL, but it wasn't the same kind of honesty as in the first half of the book; it was tinged with cold anger, and the anger is never really EXPLAINED, which makes it hard for me to understand why, for example, Hamilton stays away from her mother for twenty years and then acts like a sullen teenager when she does visit her. There are glimpses of the root of her bitterness every now and then, but they're fleeting. Maybe I was supposed to read between the lines or something, but I'm never very good at that.
On the plus side, it sounds like any affection that may have been displaced by anger has been transferred to food. Hamilton comes off as snobbish when it comes to food -- some of it's understandable, some of it's is the stuff eye rolls are made of -- but she also sounds like she knows her stuff, and she writes about food in a hungry-making way. I wouldn't want to live with her, but I'd love to eat her food.