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The Theoretical Foot

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

February 14, 2017 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 304 Pages | ISBN 9781619029057
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“[This book] will give you more insight into and compassion for a difficult life... You will, never fear, keep intact your memories of Fisher as a confident, seductive stylist.”  —New York Times Book Review

When Robert Lescher died in 2012 an unpublished manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher’s was discovered neatly packed in the one of the literary agent’s signature red boxes. Inspired by Fisher’s affair with Dillwyn Parrish — who was to become her second husband — The Theoretical Foot is the master stylist’s first novel. In it she describes the life she all-too-briefly had with the man she’d ever after describe as the one great love of her life.

It tells of a late-summer idyll at the Swiss farmhouse of Tim and Sara, where guests have gathered at ease on the terrace next to the burbling fountain in which baby lettuces are being washed, there to enjoy the food and wine served them by this stylish American couple.

But all around these seemingly fortunate people, the forces of darkness are gathering: The year is 1939; World War Two approaches. And the paradise Tim and Sara have made is being besieged from within as Tim — closely based on Parrish — is about to suffer the first of the circulatory attacks that will cause him to lose his leg to amputation.

M.F.K. FISHER essentially invented the genre of American food writing and when Consider the Oyster was brought out in 1941 to commercial and critical success, the career of one of our best nonfiction prose stylists was set on its course. Over the course of more than 25 books, Fisher shared her stories of food, love, and the sensuous life. Born in Albion, Michigan in 1908, she died in Glen Ellen, CA in the summer of 1992.


“[This book] will give you more insight into and compassion for a difficult life… You will, never fear, keep intact your memories of Fisher as a confident, seductive stylist. The story she constructed, set in the summer of 1938, keeps you wanting to know more… most of it has the unflinching spareness Fisher’s admirers rely on, along with the essential eruptions of sensuality. The book is strongly of its period…”  —New York Times Book Review

“Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is not just the greatest American food writer who’s ever played the game, she’s one of our greatest writers, period… Admirably, The Theoretical Foot deals with both poles — the perfect nothingness, lightness and frivolity of the days before tragedy, and the squirming aftermath.” —National Public Radio

“Fisher is as sensuous and wise as we expect her to be. Her writing gives hunger a luminous exactness.” —Harper’s

“This previously unpublished autobiographical first novel by the acclaimed food writer presents a snapshot of a certain slice of American expat life in Switzerland in the late 1930s, all sumptuous feasts and sun-dappled terraces.” —National Geographic Traveler

“M.F.K. Fisher is a rara avis among great American writers, not only because she primarily wrote nonfiction, but because she all but invented the genre that she continues to dominate almost 25 years after her death… The novel is a breezy evocation of a time and place just before the world tumbled into a devastating war.” —BookPage 

The legendary and incantatory powers of description that earned Fisher her fame as one of the 20th century’s best prose writers are fully at work in this intricate novel, the discovery of which is almost as romantic a story as the couple at its center… Readers longing for the clever banter of Hemingway’s characters or the indolent gloss of a Fitzgerald story will adore the book’s modernist style, in which the action focuses on each passing thought, each turn of emotion, each detail of drink or cigarette with an extraordinary attention that makes the ordinary seem simultaneously bewildering, mysterious, and absurd. This is a worthy addition to the Fisher canon.” —Publishers Weekly 

“Fisher’s novel has exquisite moments…” —Kirkus

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