Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsFixme

IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 27, 1995|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

FAR-FLUNG HUBBELL: Essays From the American Road by Sue Hubbell. (Random House: $21; 187 pp.) Sour cream raisin, peanut butter, banana cream, lemon meringue, raspberry, coconut cream and of course peach--Hubbell, on a quest with her dog, Tazzie, to find the best homemade pies in these United States, unearths, using humor and that womb-like security far-flung correspondents seem to feel writing for the New Yorker (the assurance that almost everything they notice, set on that cushion of midnight-blue velvet, will dazzle), pie folklore that predates the New World, guidelines for finding good pie and recipes for the best of them. "Let the crabbed formalists make their categories," she writes, defending a cranberry pie with a cobbler-like crust. "If a creative and artful cook invents something and calls it pie, I'll call it pie."

In one essay, Hubbell explores the tradition of eating Hoppin' Johnny (black-eyed peas and rice) on New Year's Day; in another, she visits Colon, Mich., for the 53rd annual Magic Get-Together: "A clown is working out on a unicycle in the school-bus parking lot. Tazzie finds gopher holes to dig out, and I lie down in the clover, listening to the doves and the katydids. Overhead, swallows circle and swoop. How do they do that?"

During Hubbell's visit to the National Enquirer, she meets the reporter who has recently helped to break the story of the five senators who are actually space aliens; in Vicksburg, Mich., she trails the ghost of Elvis: "Those of us who wander across this country," she writes, "hard-core itinerants, escapees from a Stanley Elkin novel, a ragtag of peddlers, truckers, journalists, compulsive tourists--meet in the flyspecked cafes off the interstates and gossip about the cities that are our temporary destinations." This is what they mean by the "open road," and reading Hubbell is like eating a Mark Twain pie with an Emerson crust.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|