12 September 2015

Weekend Cooking: Slice Harvester by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Slice Harvester by Colin Atrophy HagendorfIf you're reading a Weekend Cooking post, then it's a fair bet that you love a good food-centric memoir as well as I do. Some of these kinds of memoirs are inspirational, some are lovely. Colin Atrophy Hagendorf's Slice Harvester is just plain fun.

Many food books have been born from a successful blog or a clever gimmick, and Slice Harvester is no exception. Here's Hagendorf's story: In 2009, while out drinking with friends, he decided to begin a quest to eat a slice of pizza in every pizzeria in all of Manhattan. About two years and just over four hundred slices later, Hagendorf ate his last slice on Wall Street, sitting across the table from his girlfriend while a newspaper photographer recorded the event.

The plan: Hagendorf began at the north end of Manhattan and worked his way across and down the island until he had visited all the pizzerias he could find. He was an experienced eZine writer and publisher, so it seemed natural to him to start a blog, Slice Harvester, where he could make his reviews public.

The approach: Generally, Hagendorf would try four to six pizza places in one go, snapping photos and taking notes. He was often accompanied by a friend or two and would eat and/or share one slice of plain pizza in each place. He went on harvesting trip once every week or ten days.

What's in the book? Slice Harvester is a memoir; it's not a place-by-place description of eating pizza in New York. Written in a conversational, street-cool punk style, Hagendorf talks about his friends, his family, his life, and of course, pizza. Along the way, we learn about the punk scene, we meet the owners of pizzerias, and we get a unique view of the city. We also learn how he found a direction for his life and discovered that sobriety is not such a bad thing.

The good and the bad: I really enjoyed getting to know Hagendorf, whose life is so completely different from mine. He's a fairly good writer with a strong personal style, and I loved the many literary references that pop up throughout the memoir. On the other hand, some (okay, most) of the punk cultural references went over my head, and I have to admit to skimming every so often. Although I liked the handful of black-and-white illustrations, I wish the book had contained photographs of the places Hagendorf wrote about.

Recommendation: Colin Hagendorf's Slice Harvester is both an interesting memoir and a fun way to explore New York. It isn't the best food memoir I've ever read, but it held my attention. Be warned: by the time you finish Hagendorf's story, you'll be craving pizza -- especially one from the only pizzeria to have won his coveted 8-slice rating: Pizza Suprema, across from Madison Square Garden. (The link takes you to Hagendorf's original review.)

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781476705880
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


jama 9/12/15, 7:25 AM  

Hadn't heard of the blog, but this sounds like a fun and interesting memoir. Another Colin? Okay :). But is his middle name really Atrophy?

bermudaonion 9/12/15, 8:38 AM  

That does sound like fun. I'm sure the punk references would be over my head too.

Tina's Blog 9/12/15, 8:38 AM  

I love pizza and memoirs, so I would probably really enjoy this book. The bad part is, I live nowhere close to any great pizza places, so there are no opportunities to try some different places like this.

Katherine P 9/12/15, 9:54 AM  

This does sound fun though I admit most of the punk references would go over my head as well. I love the idea of trying all the pizzas in New York and I'm a sucker for a food gimmick! I'll definitely have to check this one out.

Vicki 9/12/15, 11:43 AM  

I really want to read this. My family is going to Manhattan in November. Guess where we'll be sure to go? Yep, Pizza Suprema.

Anonymous,  9/12/15, 12:24 PM  

Oops please ignore my first link. Accidentally hit Enter while I was trying to delete an old link!

Claudia 9/12/15, 1:10 PM  

Well, I'll note Pizza Suprema for if I ever visit NY, but think the memoir would mostly be on an alternate plane (over my head).

Sheila (Bookjourney) 9/12/15, 6:27 PM  

Slice Harvester sounds amazing - that is my kind of read. My post is finally up... I was working on it this morning when my son Brad called and said lets do lunch.... he never says that so I dropped everything and went :)

Belle Wong 9/12/15, 9:21 PM  

This sounds like such a good read - and I don't dare pick it up, because I'm doing low-carb and having a pizza craving would NOT be ideal :)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 9/13/15, 10:35 AM  

It's amazing to me how these people start blogs and then it spirals into a book deal. Sounds like a fun read...but also one of those that falls into "too many books, not enough time."

Roberta Gibson 9/13/15, 4:29 PM  

Sampling a pizza at every shop in Manhattan sounds like quite a project, and an interesting theme for a blog, but it also seems like it wouldn't remain relevant as shops and tastes come and go over time. Does he touch on its potentially ephemeral nature at all?

Beth F 9/13/15, 4:31 PM  

@Roberta: he barely mentioned the idea that the restaurants might close and new ones could open.

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