22 December 2011

Review: The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker

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.

Published by New Press, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781595586452
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: C+

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Michelle 12/22/11, 6:55 AM  

Sounds like this is an interesting way to teach some important lessons!

caite 12/22/11, 7:50 AM  

i have never read anything by Walker...yes, i know..shameful.
perhaps i should start with the chickens.

Col (Col Reads) 12/22/11, 8:36 AM  

This reminds me a bit of Goat Song, by a journalist who went to Vermont to raise goats to make cheese. I really enjoyed that book -- but it did get a bit tedious toward the end as well :)

bermudaonion 12/22/11, 9:46 AM  

This sounds like a good book to keep in the bathroom or the car! I have a feeling I'd like it.

Margot 12/22/11, 11:10 AM  

This is a book I must have. I love talking to the chickens too (in northern California). I call them the girls. They are so funny when they "talk" right back to me. I'm off to check out her blog.

Jenners 12/22/11, 1:55 PM  

This sounds delightful .. but, like you said, best read in small doses.

bookspersonally 12/22/11, 3:09 PM  

Love Alice Walker, and love chickens... (though chicken raising seems to have become rather trendy...) can think of a number of chicken-raising friends who might enjoy this for a gift!

Zibilee 12/22/11, 3:37 PM  

What an unusual and interesting concept for a book! I have a few chicken raising relatives, and I am sure this book would be very interesting to them. I am off to send a link of this review to them now!

Julie P. 12/22/11, 5:33 PM  

Chickens? I'm not sure this one is for me -- maybe in bits and pieces though.

Robin M 12/22/11, 8:15 PM  

This sound charming. Maybe a good audio for the car.

Dorte H 12/23/11, 11:37 AM  

At first I didn´t notice the name of the writer, but of course it would have to be Alice Walker :)

I love The Color Purple, but I am not sure her chicken chronicles are for me. I am not sure eating them will ever be the same ;)

Now I almost forgot: I came by to wish you a merry Christmas as this is my last blog round before we celebrate it tomorrow evening.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 12/24/11, 8:37 AM  

Even though I have a vague interest in raising backyard chickens (supported by one son, but the rest of the family vetos), I'm not sure this book is for me.

Thanks for your insight, BFR!

Barbara 12/26/11, 1:25 PM  

I love the names of the chickens but don't think this book is for me.

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