'Not Becoming My Mother' by Ruth Reichl
Reviewed By Jonathan Kirsch
Ruth Reichl is a commanding and daunting figure in American culture. Beginning in the 1970s, she played a key role in revolutionizing food and restaurant journalism, wielded make-or-break influence as a restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times and later the New York Times, and continues to loom large as editor in chief of Gourmet magazine.
With her fourth book, "Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way," however, Reichl looks backward and inward in an attempt to understand and explain her mother, both to herself and to us.
At barely 100 pages, "Not Becoming My Mother" is a meditation rather than a memoir but is no less affecting for its brevity. Reichl is performing in public what is, after all, a rite of passage: the contemplation of a deceased parent. In that sense, her little book is an exploration of one of life's biggest mysteries.