Sunday, February 21, 2021

"Sourdough" by Robin Sloan

Well. THAT was... interesting...! 

"Sourdough" by Robin Sloan is/was our Gateway Women/NoMo book club pick for February. There are no babies or pregnancies in "Sourdough," which fits the parameters of the club. 

There is, however, bread. Lots and lots of bread. This is not a book for the carb-phobic, lol. The cover shown on the left is the one I had on my Kobo ebook, but other editions feature a loaf of sourdough.  Just looking at it made me hungry. And crave bread -- preferably warm out of the oven, with lots of butter, lol.  

Our young heroine, Lois Clary, learned about robots when she started working in Detroit's auto industry. Now she's been hired by a Silicon Valley company that programs robot arms to do various tasks. Like many of her coworkers, she spends long hours at the office, existing on a "nutritive gel" with the rather unappetizing name of "Slurry."  Then one night at her apartment, she decides to order in from a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant run by two immigrant brothers, and falls in love with their "Double Spicy" -- soup and sandwiches made with delicious sourdough bread. When visa issues force the brothers to leave the country, they entrust her -- their "Number One Eater" -- with a crock of their sourdough starter.  

And so Lois begins to bake bread. And strange things begin to happen... 

I don't want to give away too much of the plot here, but suffice to say the writing is highly readable, and the story takes a few unexpected/weird twists & turns that kept me turning the pages.  I was reminded of "Uncanny Valley" by Anna Wiener -- a young woman's memoir of her experiences in Silicon Valley (which I read & reviewed here).  And maybe a couple of sci-fi &/or fantasy movies I've seen. (I'm not much into sci-fi or fantasy, but there are definitely elements of that here.) There's everything here from ancient civilizations to the hippy-dippy/crunchy-granola San Francisco of the 1960s to modern foodie culture (a restaurant that made me think of Alice Waters's Chez Panisse) to the sleek high-tech world and the belief that technology can solve everything. Can these things all co-exist? What happens when worlds collide? 

I'll be thinking about this one for a while... 

(I do like books that make me think, even if I don't entirely understand.)  

Four stars on Goodreads. 

This was Book #11 read to date in 2021 (and Book #6 finished in February so far), bringing me to 31% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 6 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books." 

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