Cooking For Her Eyes by Susan Uehara Rakstang is coming out October 1st 2020.
Susan Rakstang recalls her idyllic life as a child of Japanese-American parents and her mother’s cooking lessons of delicious tastes, exquisite fragrances, and the visual art of preparing food, through her fast-paced, frenzied years in a battle with time juggling her responsibilities as a wife, mother of two children, and working outside the home as an architect—a pioneering path not often pursued by women in the mid-1970s.
After retirement, life suddenly takes a dark turn when her mother has a stroke and her friend Margaret, a pastry chef, receives a terrifying diagnosis of stage-four cancer of the tongue. With both women’s lives hanging perilously in the balance, Susan spends her days and evenings alternately tending to each. Learning Margaret’s cancer treatment will cause horrific pain and temporary loss of taste, Susan develops a pureed food preparation technique for her friend’s meals, focusing on the natural, visual beauty of food—and cooks for Margaret’s eyes.
Blending the detail and precision of an architect with the color, tempo, and texture of her classical music roots, Susan beckons her reads to embrace their senses as she takes them on her journey of music, food, love, and death. Organizing her story as Beethoven structured his Sonata No. 8, she transcribes her anxiety, passion, joy, sorrow, and resolution as the maestro expressed in his sonata.
I’m just starting to get into the memoir genre and am so glad I read Cooking For Her Eyes. It was such a moving story. The incorporation of so many topics: being a Japanese American, a wife, a mom, and especially deciding to be an architect when it wasn’t a popular career for women was interwoven into this story in a great way. It was also gut-wrenching to read at times as this memoir really brings you into it, making you feel the emotions on the pages.
My favorite part of this memoir was how music and food were merged into this book. It was done in such an original way that I really enjoyed it. Her mother’s feast and the analysis of the music at the end was a great addition. I definitely recommend reading this book.
Author SUSAN UEHARA RAKSTANG was born in Hawai’i and raised in Chicago by her Japanese-American parents. Susan entered the male-dominated world of architecture in the 1970s as a mother of two and eventually started her own architecture firm. Now retired, she lives in Chicago’s West Loop with her husband, Bob, and their cockapoo, Tony. She has studied and played classical piano for over twenty years, inspiring the experimental form of writing used in her first book, Cooking For Her Eyes: Transcription of a Sonata. You can find recipes from the book on her website theartandarchitectureofpuree.com.
Note: I was provided an ARC copy.