REVIEWS+

The Cook

Farrar. Apr. 2019. 112p. tr. from French by Sam Taylor. ISBN 9780374120900. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780374716196. F
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OrangeReviewStarNarrated with almost documentary-like precision by a devoted female friend, this portrait of self-taught chef Mauro is not just a beautifully delineated character study or inside look at a hard way to make a living but a perceptive meditation on the meaning of work itself. Raised in Paris by a French father and Italian mother, Mauro starts baking cakes in childhood and rustling up meals for friends in adolescence, then moves on to various restaurants and eventually his own business. He's singularly committed yet questions the life-sapping sacrifices of his profession, getting an economics degree and periodically quitting to try out new experiences as he searches for a way to cook that will "not only express the glorious creativity of one person,…but will be about relationships." All this in just over 100 pages and done brilliantly.
VERDICT Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/18.]

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