After much anticipation, the inevitable memoir has arrived. “Blood, Bones and Butter” traces nearly all of Hamilton’s life and career, from an unmoored childhood through her triumph at Prune, which didn’t end the search for a sense of place and peace that is the overarching theme of this autobiography, as of so many others. It’s a story of hungers specific and vague, conquered and unappeasable, and what it lacks in urgency (and even, on occasion, forthrightness) it makes up for in the shimmer of Hamilton’s best writing.
Recalling her mother’s penchant for heavy eyeliner, she flashes back to “the smell of the sulfur every morning as she lit a match to warm the tip of her black wax pencil.” Hamilton invokes the “voluptuous blanket of summer night humidity,” captures the tantalizing promise of delicate ravioli by observing that “you could see the herbs and the ricotta through the dough, like a woman behind a shower curtain,” and compares breast feeding to being cannibalized, “not in huge monster-gore chunks, but like a legion of soft, benign caterpillars makes lace of a leaf.”
The description of the ravioli is great. I’ve never been to Hamilton’s restaurant, Prune, but it sounds tempting.