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Forum News Service, Published August 09 2013

Marilyn Hagerty’s book out Aug. 27

Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty’s new book with chef and author Anthony Bourdain is coming out Aug. 27, according to Ecco Press, Bourdain’s imprint.

Called “Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews,” it’s now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

The book is a collection of Hagerty’s restaurant reviews over 25 years with annotations that, Bourdain has said, gives an update on what happened to some of those restaurants.

In a news release, Bourdain calls it a “history of American dining — in the vast spaces between the jaded palates and professional snarkologists of the privileged coasts — as told by one hard working small city journalist.”

Hagerty began working for the Herald in the 1960s and later began writing her Eatbeat restaurant-review columns.

Marketing for the book emphasizes the authenticity of the world of restaurants portrayed by Hagerty.

Here’s the back cover: “No-nonsense but wry, earnest but self-aware, Eatbeat also encourages the best in its readers — reminding them to tip well and why — and serves as its own kind of down-home social register, peopled with stories of ex–postal workers turned café owners and prom queen waitresses. Filled with reviews of the mom-and-pop diners that eventually gave way to fast-food joints and the Norwegian specialties that finally faded away in the face of the Olive Garden’s endless breadsticks, Grand Forks is more than just a loving look at the shifts in American dining in the last years of the twentieth century — it is also a surprisingly moving and hilarious portrait of the quintessential American town, one we all recognize in our hearts regardless of where we’re from.”

“Part Fargo, part Lake Wobegone. It’s the antidote to snark,” Bourdain promised. “This book kills cynics dead.”

Hagerty and Bourdain’s friendship emerged after she gained fame, and notoriety, for writing a straightforward review of Grand Forks’ Olive Garden restaurant. The sneers of online critics quickly turned to admiration, Bourdain’s among them, as Hagerty’s review went viral.

In an April 2012 interview with Eater.com, Bourdain confessed that his “first instinct” was to laugh at Hagerty’s review of Olive Garden. “But then I saw that she writes five columns a week and has worked at that paper for thirty years,” he said. “I just think that she’s where irony goes to die. … That’s a woman who has been showing up at work and doing a job.

“I worked at brunch for a lot of years and didn't have any illusions that I was involved in a brilliant or creative enterprise. I was showing up at work and doing the best job I knew how. I respect that and respect how she was a wolfsbane to snark. A lot of people that defended her early on said, ‘Hey, that is a big deal in this town.’”