Monday, February 5, 2018

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough is a strange little novel that could be looked at from a few different angles.  One angle is just an enjoyable, slightly odd tale about Lois, who moves to San Francisco to write code for a robotics company, and discovers a love of baking bread.  

Or, it could be about a young woman, Lois, who moves to San Francisco to write code for a robotics company, and discovers that life without creativity is pretty dull; creativity is what fuels our souls. Sourdough is her creative muse. 

Or, it could be a funky mix of magical realism with a twist of technology that can make your head spin, all the while wishing you had a freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread on hand, and wondering if gee, maybe you should try making bread this weekend?

Honestly, it was all three angles for me.  This sourdough starter, the stuff that changes Lois' life, is magical.  Gifted to her by a man who operates a small take-out restaurant specializing in  spicy soup and sourdough bread spicy sandwiches, it is the thing that saves Lois from a dull life working day and night for a tech company.  The pay is great, but it can cost you your soul.  Lois can't even eat regular food; she, along with her coworkers, instead drink liquid nutritious sludgie packets of food that keep them going without causing stomach problems.  Honestly, any job that requires you become so less human that you don't even chew food (or enjoy it), is not the job for anyone. 

Lois begins baking bread in her apartment, and soon the sourdough produces changes in her life that wake her up to possibilities outside of coding as a career.  Meanwhile, the sourdough sings to music, bubbles, shoots off colored sparks in the dark, and seems to have a personality all its own.  I told you this was an odd story!

I won't tell you anymore about Lois' journey with her sourdough starter.  You'll have to take the plunge and read this novel to find out more.  I actually think it would make a pretty interesting book club discussion.  Big themes about greed, appreciating nature, the machinations of the food industry, and the slow and steady cost of progress.  Appreciating the simple things in life, and finding the complexity in those simple things.  Yes, even sourdough bread can be complex.  

Go ahead.  Check this one out.  I certainly enjoyed it, and it wasn't anything that I expected. Sometimes those are the best book surprises.  

Rating:  4/6 for a truly odd-ball novel about sourdough bread and a few other things. I may very well order sourdough bread instead of wheat the next chance I get.   

Available in hardcover, audio, and ebook. 

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