It makes sense that the cover of The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot by Chip Brantley should be a still life of luscious fruits. The book is a history of the San Joaquin Valley in California, fruit farming, and hybridization told by a charming young man who meets any number of fascinating characters during his investigations. I learned why the plums I buy at the supermarket in the summer vary so in quality (plums only have a two week harvest period, so the plums of July are not the plums of August) and that there are many delicious pluot or plumcot hybrids, a combination of plum and apricot, that I will be happy to put in my market basket this summer.
It is less understandable why Where the God of Love Hangs Out, Amy Bloom’s collection of interconnected short stories about the vagaries and varieties of Love, should feature a cherry and a peach. Apricot? There is no hint in this book, as sublime as it is, that life is a bowl of cherries. Do the fruits compel us to pick up the book and carry it out of the bookstore with us. Or has the bowl of beautiful apples and plums on the cover of her wonderful best selling novel Away become a talisman, promising best sellerdom for this book as well?
Nicholson Baker’s new book, The Anthologist, is about a free verse poet who has put togetehr an anthology of rhyming poetry. He needs to write the introduction but he is blocked. In his obsessive peregrinations about poetry, rhythm, popular music, the lives of other poets and his predicament, he has driven away his girl friend and found any number of ways to avoid his desk. The book is a disquisition on poetry and where we find it, learned and often hilarious. It drove me to my bookshelf and the library to reread some of the poets he mentions. Maybe it is not so far fetched that there is a perfect plum on the cover of this book. Maybe he was thinking of William Carlos Williams irresistable plums:
This is just to say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold