Obituary: M. F. K. Fisher

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The Independent Online
PAUL LEVY's sympathetic obituary (24 June) of M. F. K. Fisher perhaps does not sufficiently emphasise that she was above all else a writer of reminiscence, writes Ross Kessel. (How the author of that best forgotten novel Not Now But Now - fortunately she never attempted another - could at the same time have been working on the wonderful Here Let Us Feast, 1946, is a secret that Fisher took to her grave.) The recipes, as she wrote in her first book, Serve It Forth (1937), were always 'there like birds on the trees - if there is a comfortable branch'. She wrote of places and people: of Mexico, of Provence, and of her beloved California, but most especially she wrote of herself and those that she had known.

She summed it all up by writing, in Sister Age, 'I have spent my life in a painstaking effort to tell things as they are to me.' In The Gastronomic Me (1943), through Among Friends (1970) and As They Were (1982) to Sister Age (1984), there marches a parade of relatives, family and friends; and of those too who were not friends. (In Among Friends, she wrote of those in whose midst she lived for 40 years, 'I was not invited to 'meeting' until I was almost 50 (and) never invited inside a Friend's house.')

At the beginning she had written, 'I am not old and famous, with friends whose names sound like the guest-lists of all the diplomatic receptions held since 1872,' but by the end that is just what she had become.