Review: Sourdough

By Robin Sloan
MCD, 9780374203108, September 2017, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Food and technology collide in what Amazon calls a “paranormal, urban fantasy.”

The Rest of It:

Lois is a software engineer in San Francisco. Her department focuses on robotics, specifically robotic arms and what they can do. Although the work they are doing is groundbreaking, her department is stumped by the simple task of cracking an egg. To date, they’ve not been able to crack that code. Pun intended. The arm applies too much pressure or not enough.

Each day Lois goes to work to ponder this issue. Each day she returns home to an empty apartment. Until one day she orders from a restaurant that delivers the spiciest of soups and the most delicious sourdough bread. This soup and bread affects Lois in a deeply personal way. How can food make a person feel so good?

All is great until the two brothers who run the delivery service tell her that they are closing up shop to move to another country. Seeing the desperation in her face, they share their sourdough starter with her.

What Lois produces through trial and error is also magical in its own way. Each loaf contains a face, unlike any other loaf. Even though she is not a baker, she finds herself newly motivated to share this bread with the world.

You may remember Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Well, Sourdough is written by the same author. It’s very similar in feel so if you liked Mr. Penumbra then you will enjoy this one. As an urban fantasy, it’s quite fun but there is one part of the story that I had difficulty wrapping my brain around. Nevertheless, it was still a fun, easy read. I think it provides a little more to discuss that you would think.

I will caution you. If you read this, you will crave sourdough bread. This was torture for my Celiac self. So be sure to have some on hand with a thick slab of butter at the ready.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

14 thoughts on “Review: Sourdough”

  1. I have been eyeballing this one for a while. I do love a good slice of warm bread with thickly spread butter on it. There are few things better than that!

    1. You don’t have any issues with fantasy or magical realism if I remember correctly so I think you’d like this. There are just touches of it here and there.

  2. I borrowed this a long time ago from the library but had to take it back before I got to it. I always seem to have no library books or 10. Right now I have 13.

    1. Really? 100 years old? Starter is really hard to keep alive. Remember “Friendship” bread? Kids in school used to parse out their starter in zip lock bags and give it to their friends to pass on, etc. It was fun but who knows how many germs we all consumed in those days.

      1. My guess is the starter isn’t really that old and that the oldest parts were used long ago, but this starter stared a long time ago. Does that make sense? All the germs we used to consume probably kept us all healthy!

        1. The thing with starter is that you use a little bit to bake the bread and then you feed the existing so it grows some more so he means the origins are 100 years old but it’s a constant build, take, process. So interesting really. And in this book music plays a role in how the starter develops. 

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