Through lyrical and intimate personal essays, All Things Edible, Random and Odd delivers a portrait not just of a father who died, but of a daughter who kept living.
Sheila Squillante’s heartfelt and humorous essays introduce us to a father—a 1980s businessman and early adopter of the term “foodie”—and a daughter’s complicated grief. It also moves beyond that grief, to embrace the intricacies and delights of how life grows from it.
Food remains central throughout the collection with essays that serve up a menu (and sometimes recipes!) of Hawaiian beach seaweed, turtle soup, and fermented Icelandic shark. Nostalgia clashes with reality, through stories connecting memories to taste.
With poetic prose, Squillante expresses the complexities of unresolved relationships, the importance of shared experiences, and how family and food make us who we are.
"Squilante's All Things Edible, Random and Odd is the best book I've ever read about what it means to be a father's daughter. The book embraces all of the complexities of having, and losing, a father who was more present in the experiences he gave his children--particularly the food he served them--than in conversation or engagement with them. It's a book about mourning both what was lost and what never was. A master class in writing sentiment without sentimentality, Squilante's wry voice and trenchant observations guide us on a journey of love, loss, and moving forward." —Sarah Einstein, Pushcart Prize Winner
"All Things Edible, Random and Odd is a marbled collection of beauties. Its essays give us recipes for meat ragu and mock turtle soup but also show us how to move through the pangs of adolescence, a variety of heartaches, marriage, motherhood and the dark truths of love. It is, in a word (I can’t help myself): delicious." —Randon Noble, Author of A Harp in the Stars
"All Things Edible, Random and Odd is an intimate, redolent story of loss, love, and growing into one’s own imperfect heart. Sheila Squillante’s wonderful memoir offers ladles of aromatic broth from the complex soup of family, marriage, and childbearing. Plus recipes! An amazing book." —Dinty W. Moore, Author of The Mindful Writer
“In these stunning poems filled with the weight and hungers of milk, honey, and sensuous blood-pulse, Sheila Squillante deftly slips between exterior and interior spaces of embodiment and intellect, quotidian and sublime, dream and wakefulness. With a painterly eye and an impeccable ear for linguistic sound and phrasing, the keenly-thrumming poems in Beautiful Nerve will rivet you with their quirky precision, and make you swoon with their wild and gorgeous music.” —Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of Dandarians
“Is it possible to resolve the grief—as well as understand the love—of a father who dies too young? In this quietly explosive essay collection, Squillante does just that. At the tender heart of these essays is the role food plays in this relationship, since Squillante inherits her culinary love from her father. Can food be a balm for grief? Can it be the means for the narrator to keep her father 'alive,' to better understand him? As in the best essay collections, this one is voracious as the narrator also explores romantic relationships, motherhood, marriage, family, and the role literature plays in her life. In exquisite detail and with lyrical language, Squillante turns her life into art, as only the very best creative nonfiction writers can.” —Sue William Silverman, Author, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences