Covelo, CA: The Yolla Bolly Press, 1990. First edition. Paperback. 104pp. Quarto [25.5 cm] in decorative wraps with matching endpapers, with handmade paper jacket, in publisher's thin board slipcase. Light edgewear and a few small stains to slipcase. Near fine. Item #51884
Copy number 71 of 190 numbered copies bound in sewn paper wrappers, from a total edition of 255 copies.
One of the great prose stylists of the 20th century, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher wrote almost exclusively about food, and so never achieved mainstream literary recognition. Food, however, is never just food, and Fisher’s delectable and penetrating work speaks directly to the human experience.
Boss Dog appears at first to be a departure for Fisher; it is not explicitly concerned with gastronomy, and its cannily fanciful tone—reminiscent of E. Nesbit—is appealing to children, although this is not precisely a “children’s book.” Once begun, though, Boss Dog reveals itself to be Fisher through and through, from the careful descriptions of carefully chosen meals to the sense of universal import that hangs about the quotidian.
Although presented as fiction, Boss Dog, like nearly all of Fisher’s work, is largely autobiographical. She and her two young daughters spent a year or so in Aix-en-Provence in the 1950s, and these six stories tell of their time there, enlivened by the exploits of the “very interesting dog” of the title. Unlike Fisher’s only novel (the surprisingly ineffectual Not Now but Now), which suffered from her attempt to refocus her powers on a subject other than gastronomy, Boss Dog is a fully realized and wholly satisfying tale, with much to offer both Fisher’s fans and those new to her work. It is also one of the last books Fisher wrote before her death in 1992, with much of her later published work consisting of journal entries and anthologies of older writings.