This installment: food and tech meet in the Bay Area (f); Germans and Cubans meet in Berlin (f); and hard farm life in Wisconsin in the ‘40s (f).
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
This is a peculiar book that I enjoyed by suspending disbelief. It plays with two issues endemic to the Bay Area: food and technology. Lois has a new job in robotics but loves the soup and bread two immigrant brothers deliver. They have to decamp but leave her with a crock of their precious starter and she ends up baking. Word gets out and she’s recruited to become part of a start-up market in Alameda. The deal: she is to design a robotic arm that’s involved with bread production. Other participants are a peculiar bunch and no one seems to know the identity of the market’s creator. Modest Lois gets caught up but eventually she forges her own path—whew! Entertaining.
Here in Berlin by Christina Garcia
Who knew the links between Havana and this iconic German city? Garcia does, in spades, and we meet many folks from both locations through vignettes gleaned by a mysterious Visitor on a personal quest fin Berlin. It’s a mash-up of history, ideology, and personal testimony; each short chapter adds to the rich collage. Also characters leak into others’ stories which gives the material further dimension. Fascinating.
The Driest Season by Meghan Kenny
Chloe finds her father hanging in the barn. The drought’s finally driven him to the end of his rope. It’s WWII out there but equally grim in Wisconsin, especially since her mother tries to cover it up and drinks to forget. A short, quiet yet intense story in which a 15-year-old comes of age prematurely, and a community rallies support from surprising corners. Restrained, well-hewn.
Back next week.