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Pickle Me This

April 24, 2010

On literary cakes

Cake is one of my many weaknesses, actual cake and bookish ones. I’ve really never, ever met a cake I didn’t like (except carrot cake, which I hold passionate feelings about. The cake that should not be called cake. An insult to cakes. If you tell me you’re bringing cake and then you show up with carrot cake, you’ve not only let me down, but you’ve told a lie). I like to bake cakes, I like to eat cakes. I think my favourite is chocolate banana cake, or chocolate-anything cake, or vanilla in a pinch. Fillings can be cream, or fruity, but should probably be icing. Oh, icing. When I was little, I used to eat the icing and leave the cake. Since then I’ve learned (but not entirely).

I like cakes in books too, though they’re often markers of tragedy. The cake Rilla Blythe had to carry in Rilla of Ingleside, and how there was nothing more mortifying. Oh, god– the birthday cake in Raymond Carver’s story “A Small Good Thing”. Could it be the most unbearable cake in fiction? Marian McAlpin’s cannibal cake in The Edible Woman.  Does Carol Shields have a cake?? There must be one, though I can’t think of it. So literary cakes, and there must be a couple more.

Cakeish books have had a way of getting my attention lately. I adored Heather Mallick’s essay collection Cake or Death when it came out a few years ago. I’ve been wanting to read Sloane Crosley’s collection I Was told There’d Be Cake for ages now. I can’t wait to read Sarah Selecky’s story collection This Cake is For the Party when it comes out next month. And just now, when I was searching for books on cake, I discovered that Aimee Bender has a novel coming out in June called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (which could never approach the particular sadness of carrot cake, but I digress). I’ve never read Bender before but a proper cakeish book seems like a particularly good place to start.

And note that you’ve still got about a week to enter Sarah Selecky’s Win a Cake contest. I’ve already entered, and I won’t be sharing if I win.

One thought on “On literary cakes”

  1. Julia says:

    Have you heard of Kate Moses’ new book — CAKEWALK — it’s apparently a memoir about cake, among other things! someone just mentioned her to me and I thought of your post about books & cakes.

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