At first, I thought it was about Willoughby, her father’s best friend who was part mobster, part building custodian and part jazz musician. Then I thought it was about her family’s New York City restaurant. Then about her mother and father’s relationship. She skipped from topic to topic to topic. She revealed an episode’s ending first and the back story 20 pages later.
I was pretty lost but instantly charmed by the book’s half pages of text and the whimsical random drawings. And the soup recipes. And her mother who blithely served as the restaurant’s only waitress. And her father who called her mother a cunt when he was frustrated with her order tickets.
And then there’s the name dropping. A rollerblading JFK Jr., a hung-over John Belushi, and a soup-besotted Calvin Trillin frequented her family’s restaurant in the 1970s and 1980s along with caravans of actors and musicians and skinny fashion models and other hungry locals.
Even though the structure is arbitrary and the characters sometimes a little stupid (like an human), the net effect of this memoir is neither arbitrary nor stupid. It is enchanting. And now I have a new restaurant to try on my next NYC visit.