Joyce Maynard, Parenting, and Pies

It’s nice when the mundane becomes touching, even profound, as it does in the essay by Joyce Maynard that’s at the link below. It’s about pies, and a few other matters.

I first saw an early syndicated version of this in The Oregonian while on a trip to Portland, Oregon in 1989.

Maynard’s mother had just died, and when I read this, I thought I was reading a cooking column, and didn’t take note of who the author was. I just remembered that the article affected me far more than I had expected to be affected by a cooking column.

I soon lost my copy of the Oregonian, then found myself wanting to re-read that oddly touching column about the pies. It was the days before the internet, though, which meant that, without a trip to Portland or the name of the author, I didn’t stand much chance of tracking down the column.

Maynard achieved fame with “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in The New York Times Magazine in 1971. She achieved infamy in 1998 by telling much, if not all about her brief relationship with J.D. Salinger in the early 70’s, and by auctioning off the letters she had exchanged with the very reclusive Salinger.

By the time I tracked this down in 2007, the poignant essay I had read eighteen years earlier had gone on to play a part in reshaping Maynard’s life and those of a number of others to whom Maynard had taught the Zen of pie making. I sometimes wonder if the late Adrienne Shelley had read Maynard’s take on pies, and if that take had in any way informed Shelley’s creation of the movie, later a Broadway musical, called Waitress.

 Here’s the 2007 update on what I read back in 1989:


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