M.F.K. Fisher by Book Light

“Any normal man must nourish his body by means of food put into it through the mouth.”

M.F.K. Fisher, “When a Man is Small”

It is a cold winter night–cold for these parts, anyway–and I am lying in my bed, cringing my feet to escape the little insidious tendrils of icy air creeping under the blanket and reading M.F.K. Fisher by the miserly glow of a little reading light. I’ve progressed through thirty-five years of a reading life, somehow, without once encountering Fisher’s name. That all changed a few weeks ago, when an essayist I was reading mentioned her in passing. Since then I’ve seen her name again and again, as though a magical door opened from some parallel universe into this one and out stepped Fisher, master of the essay. 

When I read the sentence with which I opened this little anecdote, it was like another light, warm and simple and welcoming, began to glimmer from the opening of that door. I had to turn off the light, set the book down. I’m done. It is an extraordinary sentence. To set it down on the page and move on, as though nothing happened, must have felt like flying. It is a remarkable thing and I love it. I love it the way an artist loves a deft turn of the brush. The way a chef loves a surprising flavor. 

Perhaps one day, if I read and write hard enough, I may enjoy a glimpse through the door at a master like Fisher. Until then, I’ll try harder to stay out of the cold.

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