Killer Meatballs, and Other Food in Lara Vapnyar’s Fiction

Sometimes you just don’t know where the “writing about writing” will show up. Yesterday’s weekly “Dining In” section in the New York Times, for example, featured a front-page piece on Lara Vapnyar and her new story collection, Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love.

The article displayed so prominently in the food and wine section includes some good descriptions of how, in these stories, “food has the power to define characters, propel plots, cause riots and even commit manslaughter.” Plus, there’s a snippet about using food in the fiction-writing classroom: When her undergraduates “often turned in work filled with sex and gore,” Vapnyar gave them an assignment “to write about food and how characters responded to it, to teach them how preferences, memories and quirks could make up a personality on the page.” The article quotes her as saying that beginning writers “‘often don’t give their characters enough particulars,'” and that “‘Food is something that readers can understand.'” Good tip. It’s occurred to me more than once that I should probably introduce more food-related elements into my fiction, but for some reason it’s something I don’t tend to do very much. Maybe it has something to do with my own poor cooking skills. Food for thought (sorry!).

To read the full article, click here.