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Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseballby Molly O'Neill
Synopses & Reviews
Molly O'Neill's father believed that baseball was his family's destiny. He wanted to spawn enough sons for an infield, so he married the tallest woman in Columbus, Ohio. Molly came out first, but eventually her father's plan prevailed. Five boys followed in rapid succession and the youngest, Paul O'Neill, did, in fact, grow up to be the star right fielder for the New York Yankees. In Mostly True, celebrated food critic and writer O'Neill tells the story of her quintessentially American family and the places where they come together — around the table and on the ball field.
Molly's great-grandfather played on one of the earliest traveling teams in organized baseball, her grandfather played barnstorming ball, and her father pitched in the minor leagues, but after being sidelined with an injury in the war, he set his sights on the next generation. While her brothers raged and struggled to become their own men, Molly, appointed Deputy Mom at an age when most girls were playing with dolls, learned early how to be the model Midwestern homemaker and began casting about wildly for other possible destinies. As her mother cleaned fanatically and produced elaborate, healthy meals, Molly spoiled her brothers with skyscraper cakes, scribbled reams of poetry, and staged theatrical productions in the backyard. By the late 1960s, the Woodstock Nation had challenged some of the O'Neill values, but nothing altered their conviction that only remarkable achievement could save them.
Mostly True is the uncommon chronicle of a regular family pursuing the American dream and of one girl's quest to find her place in a world built for boys. Molly O'Neill — an independent, extraordinarily talented, and fiercely funny woman — showed that home runs can be hit in many fields. Her memoir is glorious.
"Former columnist for the New York Times and author of The New York Cookbook, O'Neill de-emphasizes the cooking element here in favor of cozy family gatherings around baseball games. Her memoir begins even before the courtship of her parents, minor leaguer 'Chick' O'Neill and six-foot, convent-educated 'Bootsie' Gwinn, in Columbus, Ohio, in 1945, and extends to younger brother Paul O'Neill's retirement as right-fielder for the Yankees in 2001. O'Neill meanders lovingly through years growing up as the eldest to five brothers who channeled their adolescent hormones into Little League. O'Neill records her first forays into cooking inspired by an Ohio Power and Electric Co. demonstration given for her Brownie troop; her brothers worshipped her for making dishes from Spam and processed cheese. In college, she secured jobs as a cook and took over the kitchen at Ciro's in Boston by 1979. Her cooking segued into writing, first for the Globe, then New York Newsday. By the time she became a restaurant critic for the Times in the early 1990s, younger brother Paul had been traded to the Yankees, bringing the whole unwieldy family to feast in New York. O'Neill charts a long-winded, pleasantly nostalgic trip. B&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Filled with poignant and often rivetting anecdotes of her coming of age in Ohio with five younger brothers, [O'Neill's] beautifully composed story is destined to be a best seller..." Library Journal
"Tasty, feather-light entertainment." Kirkus Reviews
"Oh, Molly O'Neill, what a book you've written! Even if the reader is indifferent to two of your major ingredients — baseball and cooking — there is still your remarkable and colorful family. But this reader, after reading Mostly True, has placed it lovingly on a shelf with the volumes of M.F.K. Fisher because, Molly, that's how fine a writer you are and because that is the highest praise I can offer." Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes
"Mostly True describes the coming of age of a compelling young chef and that chef's transformation into one of the country's best writers on food and cooking. But she goes beyond that here, broadening her personal story into one about the love and complexities of siblings and family in the heartland of America. This book is a jewel. You won't want it to end." Michael Ruhlman, author of The Soul of a Chef
"A few years ago, New York was the beneficiary of two exceptional members of the O'Neill family of Columbus, Ohio — Molly, the gifted food writer of the Times, and Paul, the fiercely competitive right fielder of the New York Yankees. Those of us who love both food and baseball often wondered what kind of family produced siblings who had excelled in such different fields. Now, thanks to Molly's delicious memoir, Mostly True, we have the answer — the story of uncommon parents and their exceptional family. A vote here for Molly as this year's O'Neill family MVP." David Halberstam, author of The Education of a Coach and The Teammates
"Molly O' Neill has long been one of my favorite writers on food — so it came as no surprise that Mostly True is as wonderful as it is. What is a surprise is the discovery that the author served time in the same Provincetown restaurant kitchen I did. All the old faces and voices of my good old/bad old days are right there in all their magnificently debauched glory. I can attest to the fact that this part of the memoir is absolutely true, thrilling to read, and reason enough to buy this book immediately. A delight from start to finish." Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential
About the Author
For a decade, Molly O'Neill was the food columnist for the New York Times Magazine and the host of the PBS series Great Food. Her work has appeared in many national magazines, and she is the author of three cookbooks, including the award-winning The New York Cookbook. She lives in New York City.
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