The Upstairs Delicatessen by Dwight Garner

On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading

An impressive and enjoyable collection of stories on reading and eating – perhaps two of life’s greatest pleasures for the author Dwight Garner. The Upstairs Delicatessen is broken down into five chapters: breakfast, lunch, shopping, drinking, and dinner. I’d be remiss to say I didn’t appreciate Garner’s short section on napping, a mandatory and much enjoyed (pants off) daytime activity. The book is seasoned with humour, and woven throughout are tales about Garner, his wife, the cookbook author Cree Lefavour, and his kids. 

Garner examines the works of Joan Didion, Eve Babitz, George Orwell, and Anthony Veasna So, to name a few, musing over fine sections on cuisine from their books. He writes on the rituals of dining, his own and others, all the way from breakfast to dinner. A walk through the grocery store mid-way through feels like pure bliss for Garner who pushes his cart from aisle to aisle describing the wares. 

One gets the sense Garner has been preparing to write this book since childhood, collecting snippets of books, articles, and ads relating to food. I felt his passion on the topic soaked through every page. 

For anyone who loves to read or to eat, or who loves the two combined, Dwight Garner’s The Upstairs Delicatessen is a great joy. For some, it will feel like a return to being a kid again, for others it will be an uplifting education. You may even be tempted to try a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. At the very least, you’ll close this book with many of the acclaimed book reviewer’s suggestions to add to your must-read list.

Dwight Garner (@DwightGarner)

Dwight Garner is a book critic for The New York Times and was previously the senior editor of The New York Times Book Review. His essays and criticism have also appeared in The New Republic, Harper’s Magazine, Slate, and other publications. He is the author of Garner's Quotations.

The Upstairs Delicatessen is releasing October 24th and is available for pre-order now. Check for a distributor near you.

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