Cofrin Park

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Novel Reading: THE LOST ART OF MIXING, by Erica Bauermeister

mixing cover

I read a couple of novels last year, because I peruse too many non-fiction books and because I wanted to see what gets published these days. One novel was by a first time author with a freshly minted MFA, who told the story of an abused girl growing up in a trailer park. Well written, yet sad. The other author had previous titles and the book I read, The Lost Art of Mixing, continued the story of Lillian, a restaurateur.

Why bother reading a novel?  Because it's fun and interesting to experience how a writer chooses to advance the story and share the characters in ways that keep you reading instead of using the book as a fly-swatter or a Frisbee. Novel reading may also help you make distinctions in your own life that you have missed. Once you make those distinctions, your life takes on new meaning and gives you renewed energy and you thrive.

Erica Bauermeister knows how to keep the reader interested. I discovered some pertinent distinctions as well.

The Lost Art of Mixing, also made me hungry for some tasty meals, as the story plays out in and around a restaurant. The owner/chef, Lillian, and sous-chef , Chloe, follow cooking rituals that spill over into their personal lives.

 A contrasting character, Isabelle, meanwhile flourishes while losing her "rituals" to Alzheimer, in a soft and touching portrayal of the disease, both through the eyes of Isabelle and through the observations of the other characters.

Erica's prose wafts through you, enticing you to take another bite, all the while thinking "what a lovely way to mix those words with those people, who should not waste time in a life that is not theirs." And who among us can claim to have fully lived in their own skin every day? Who has not spoiled the fresh sweetness of  the fruits we were given?

Erica's novel gives us permission and example for living life fully, despite the messes we inevitably must clean up in our "kitchens." And not just the one you cook in.

The character Finnegan is one example: Finnegan, the 6 foot 7, 19-year old who shows up on Lillian's doorstep, in pursuit of the illusive Chloe, ends up washing dishes and cleaning the restaurant like a saint. He provides the backdrop for the female characters to face their fears and get on with it, as he faced his fear of heights, among others.

The Finnegan character gives readers a fine distinction about facing fear. Finnegan feared his own height, but did not tell his parents of his fears. His parents owned a climbing company and the young Finnegan would climb to the top of the family climbing wall, just so he could relax in his parent's embrace at the end of the climb. Who hasn't done that? Who hasn't done something we hate or fear in order to get love? Finnegan's fears are also realized when he loses his parents who die in a storm while climbing Mount Everest. Finnegan rises from his tragedy and dives into the mix established at the restaurant, with surprising results. He shows us how to grow and love despite a broken heart.

Did you know that merely the act of reading the printed word makes you smarter? (That's right, reading my blog makes you smarter.)

Read a novel and enjoy the timeless art form of storytelling that has the ability to transport you into another world, another's world. You may find yourself changed for the wiser, and learn how to use your story, your life metaphor to change yourself and the world for the better.

With all the stress and distractions in our world, we need to slow down and feel our life. Novel reading can help us do that. Bury yourself in a novel and enjoy!

Read any good books lately? Let's here about it below, in the comments section!