Reading Resolution: “Sourdough” by Robin Sloan

9. A book recommended by someone:  Sourdough by Robin Sloan

List Progress: 1/25

You know those pieces of media where you reach the end and say “I don’t really know what the creator was trying to say”? Sourdough by Robin Sloan is definitely one of those. Received as a gift, I dove into this novel that seemed to appeal directly to my interests: it is about a hobbyist baker in San Francisco who gets caught up in the magic of making sourdough bread after she is gifted a very special starter. The book moves quickly and has a lot of things to say. I’m just not sure if Sloan sat down and decided what it was all supposed to amount to. As such, the end result feels somewhat (if you will forgive the bread pun) underproved.

The main character is a machinery programmer named Lois working at a tech startup in an incredibly detailed depiction of San Francisco. (Seriously, I live in the Bay Area and some scenes were spot-on descriptions of real world places I’ve been to, in both physical and tonal details.) Lois is feeling spiritually and mentally drained from the demanding yuppie tech world until she discovers a new takeout place that makes amazing soup and sourdough bread, run by two brothers of the “mysterious quirky foreigner” type. They develop a friendship and shortly thereafter the brothers have to leave the country, leaving Lois a parting gift of some of their sourdough starter. This all was maybe the first two chapters, and I would have preferred a book with a lot more of it, especially given the direction the ending goes in. But instead we get Lois’ entry into the world of foodie tech hipsters.

You see, this book is about a white woman using a personal gift of a man of color’s culture (as in bacterial culture, but the book draws the wordplay parallel many times) and using it as a tool of personal discovery and financial gain. It is so on the nose that I was assuming the book was going to make a point of it, especially as Lois stumbles into the professional culinary success that the chef brother Beoreg is consistently denied, but…nope. It goes without comment. I’m not even sure if author Robin Sloan realizes the situation he painted here, but the nomadic foreign brothers exist only to give Lois a new perspective and lease on life. And considering part of the novel’s conclusion is a debate about ownership of the starter between Lois and a different character entirely, it’s a bit of an uncomfortable dynamic.

Weird cultural appropriation subtext aside, the book has a muddled view of who it is rooting for, with sides in culinary debates being declared antagonists with no real rhyme or reason. Oh no, this character wants to mechanize and bring science into the magic of the starter! Ignoring the fact that Lois uses a tech startup robot in the production of her bread… Oh no, that character has stuffy, affected old-world ideas about food! Ignoring that Lois’ journey is all about her hand-making bread, one of the most affected old-world things you can do these days… It all just comes across unclear and muddled about what the book is trying to say, if it’s trying to say anything at all.

Sourdough is the epitome of a beach read. The prose moves fast, the characters are quirky and fun, the settings are well-painted and the escapist fantasy of giving up your soul-crushing job to bake bread and talk to foodies all day is fun to indulge in. But if you’re looking for something to dig into, try to find something with a bit more meat. (Had to get one more food pun in, sorry.)

Would I Recommend It: Yeeees, but not highly. Good to read during a long plane trip or sitting on a beach.

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Come see my short play performed at Monday Night PlayGround on Jan 15th! Also, announcing my People’s Choice Award for December!

For the second month in a row, I am pleased to announce that my ten-minute play, “Sh*t Farming for Fun and Profit”, has been selected for the Monday Night PlayGround series. It will be performed in a staged reading on January 15th at Berkeley Rep, and everyone is welcome to buy a ticket and come see! This month’s performance is a collaboration with Planet Earth Arts and uses the prompt “Probable Future vs Possible Future”.

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In addition, I would like to announce that my previous play, “There’s No Place Like Hell for the Holidays”, was selected for the People’s Choice Award in December. Read the first two pages here!

Thank you for everyone’s support and I cannot wait to see a second month of my work go up for Monday Night PlayGround. Come see it if you can!

Come see my short play “There’s No Place Like Hell for the Holidays” performed at Monday Night PlayGround on Dec 18th

I am happy to announce that my short play, “There’s No Place Like Hell for the Holidays”, has been chosen to receive a staged reading on Monday, December 18th as part of the Monday Night PlayGround series!

This piece was written in four days using the prompt “Home for the Holidays”. So of course I decided to add demons from Hell. My piece will be one of six readings for the night.

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If you would like to see actors put on a staged reading of my piece, guided by director Lauren Spencer, you can buy tickets here for the 8pm show. In addition, this PlayGround has a special holiday celebration, a Holiday Cookie Bake-Off at 7pm. Bring your best homemade cookies and your love of the arts to see an evening of great theater.

Announcing the launch of the “Hard as Stone” Anthology, by Circlet Press

(The following post is Not Safe for Work.)

Do you like fantasy dwarves?

Do you like erotica?

Have you ever considered the combination of the two?

The “Hard as Stone: Dwarven Erotica” anthology, published by Circlet Press and edited by Julie Cox, is the perfect place to find this union. It includes my short story “Cave Dwellers”, which should satisfy all of your genderqueer dwarf porn needs.

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Check it out and find all sorts of fun things dwelling in caves!

Bay Area friends, join me tomorrow for the first Monday Night PlayGround!

Anyone in the Bay Area, I invite you all to join me in the audience of the first Monday Night PlayGround of the 2017-2018 season! I will be there for the 8pm show and ready to see an exciting line-up:

Topic: IN THE BEGINNING…

Cat Town by Nara Dahlbacka
Spiskammers by Rob Dario
Anna Considers a Cocktail by Ruben Grijalva
Every Beginning by Genevieve Jessee
Fresh Squeezed Please by Melissa Keith
Where to Begin? By Maury Zeff

Reserve your tickets here and come and see the sort of creativity that can be unleashed under crazy writing circumstances!

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Listen to “To Dr. Von Lupe, Concerning the Radium” now on The Tales of Sage and Savant!

As part of a month-long sponsorship with Mad Scientist Journal, the steampunk podcast “The Tales of Sage and Savant” has recorded and published my short story “To Dr. Von Lupe, Concerning the Radium”.

Listen to this great performance by Eddie Louise, a regular cast member of Sage and Savant, and dive back into the both mad and mundane happenings in the lair of Dr. Von Lupe!

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