Pultizer Prize–winning author Alice Walker fell in love with Glorious. And with Rufus. And with Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, the Gladyses, and Babe. In her latest memoir, The Chicken Chronicles, Walker shares lessons learned and memories regained after she decides to raise chickens on her small farm in northern California.
In the almost 40 pieces that make up this volume (originally written for her blog), Walker shares her inner musings triggered by her daily visits to the chicken coop. Some of the essays are written as if she were composing a letter to her girls (that is, the hens), some have an agenda (vegetarianism, bullying), some are personal (childhood memories, friendship), and some are practical (raising hens). Walker's affection for her feathered friends is evident throughout, as is her everlasting wonder and appreciation of the natural world.
Walker's tone in The Chicken Chronicles is that of a parent talking to her children (the chickens), although this is hardly a children's story. The style is at first charming but becomes a bit tedious by the end of volume. Thus this is not a book to read straight through; the collection is better appreciated as it was originally intended: an occasional blog post about Walker's life with her chickens. Readers who take the time to enjoy the memoir one chapter at time will be rewarded with insight into Walker's thoughts on a number of issues and may even want to start raising chickens themselves.
The unabridged audio edition (Recorded Books, 3 hr, 39 min) is read by Walker herself, who narrates as if she were talking directly to her chickens. My full audio review was written for AudioFile magazine.
For more on Alice Walker and more posts about her chickens, visit her blog.
These links lead to affiliate programs.