Review of Holly Lyn Walrath, “The Joy of Baking”, Luna Station Quarterly 30: Read online. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.
WARNING: Do not read this story without cake on hand, or you will want cake by the time you’re done reading it.
“The secret to effective baking is patience,” we are told, which is why I am such a bad cook. “Timing is everything,” we are also told, and this as true of comedy as it is of baking, and this story has both cake and elements of delightful comedy. Heaven and hell provide much meat for stories, but how often do you get stories of purgatory? (Dante excepted, of course, and Beetlejuice). Whether purgatory is a waiting place before the ultimate destination, or simply a waiting place before moving on to the next life, a place one will come back to again and again, there is something comforting in thinking that perhaps it is a place where the waiting souls are fed and loved and comforted, where they may rest as long as they need, and where the caretakers have all the time in the world to perfect their baking skills.
Yes, I think I’d rather enjoy visiting Walrath’s purgatory. And now I want some cake. My great-grandmother’s sour cream coffee cake, I think.