Severson starts the narrative with her arrival in San Francisco, newly sober and terrified she's going to screw up her big break, and then traces her life through her professional and personal encounters with famous cooks like Marion Cunningham, Edna Lewis, and Marcella Hazan.
as gawky. Whose tale is this supposed to be? you wonder. But Severson's
writing lopes along easily, and you follow close to her shoulder,
listening to catch every crumb of food-writer gossip she drops. Soon it
comes to you that the tension between her desire to tell others' stories and her determination to tell her own isn't artificial at all ― it's a
big part of who she's telling you she is.
At that point, it becomes easy to get lost in the anecdotes Severson tells, snickering at her portrayal of Ruth Reichl as the prom queen to her band geek
and giving her props for the honest way the author assesses how her friendship with Rachael
Ray reflects her own feelings about fame and ambition. Ever the journalist,
Severson shies away from making us wallow in the pain that her self-searching caused her ― instead, she'd rather share the frank truths she gleaned.
Another reason to go see Severson read: She's a funny raconteur who doesn't wilt in front of an audience.
Kim Severson Reads at Omnivore
Date: Mon., May 17, 6-7 p.m.
Location: Omnivore Books,
3885a Cesar Chavez (at Church), 282-4712
Cost: Free (but get there early)