Thoughts oreobyfr by Fran Ross, A New Directions Paperback 2015 (orig 1974), 230 pages

Type/Source: Tradeback, 14 Day Library Reserve
 Why I read this now: I requested it from the library when the Tournament of Books 2016 Short List was announced.


WHAT’s it ABOUT: I don’t think I can begin to accurately describe everything nor even give a hint of what the book is about. Truly, much of it is over my head. But, ohwhattheheck — I’ll try: the story has a kickass lady protag who has a way with words and an admirable confidence in her abilities. Her name is Christine but her family calls her Oreo. She herself asks others to call her Anna. Her Jewish father and African American mother divorce when Christine/Anna/Oreo is still a baby. When she is in her early teens, she goes on a quest to find her father. Mythology, social commentary, feminism, racism, many languages, new-to-me words, made-up words, hybrid words and references many of which whooshed right by me – some I attempted to define which meant this book took me longer to get through but that is OK because I love finding out new things. Lots of situations and history that I didn’t relate to even when I did attempt to search. However, it is a fun and wild ride. I’ll link other reviews if this has you even remotely curious.

WHAT’s GOOD: Vocabulary? humor? Yes, let’s go with vocab and comedy.

What’s NOT so good: The fact that much went over my head… But what I did ‘get’, I enjoyed. It is extremely irreverent. She pokes fun at everything.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If I was a good and earnest student of literature, I would buy this book and read it again and again and again.

Pie Notes

Note #1. “Her sprachgefühl told her that Eric was stretching a point (or, rather, a wedge) and that the professor was perpetuating Partridge’s error by persisting in this pie-eyed usage.”

Define sprachgefühl : intuitive feeling for the natural idiom of a language.

Note #2. “as the train filled, the hardened travelers knew that it was pie-in-the-sky to hold out for a double seat,…”

Note #3. Apple pie with Oreo crust.

Note #4. “She ducked into a luncheonette, sat in a booth in the back, and ordered a hot sausage sandwich, a Shabazz bean pie and a Pepsi.”

RATING: Four slices of BEAN PIE. fourpie


Reviews: The New Yorker article by Danzy Senna (which is also the book’s Introduction), A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook, Teresa’s review at Shelf Love (she says “And so, this kooky story becomes a celebration of all identities.”). More reviews can be found here.


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14 thoughts on “Oreo

  1. It’s such a bonkers story isn’t it? Parts of it went over my head, too, especially toward the end, but after I looked up the Theseus myth, I was impressed at how she riffed on it.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I put it on my Goodreads TBR a few weeks ago after reading some other positive reviews from trusted bloggers. It sounds like it fits in with some other more recent novels that skewer everything – Welcome to Braggsville and Loving Day come to mind. Also, for what it’s worth, I enjoy your review style as well! Don’t change a thing! 🙂

    1. Hello! Thanks for your last comment – well, the whole comment I mean but especially that last bit.
      If you love words and wordy geekiness that is so smart it slaps, this will be your cuppa!

  3. I’ve seen the cover of this one but can’t say I know all that much about it. Four slices of pie is good but four slices of BEAN pie? Is that good? I’ve never had bean pie before.

    I am a little slow today. I need a nap me thinks.

    1. Don’t pay attention to the kind of pie I rate with – the kind of pie is a reference to the kind of pie in the book. If you click the link in the quote about Shabazz bean pie, you will find it a specific pie representing a specific culture, thus the mention in my rating. Plus, I am not a fan of apple pie. That’s not true, but it is my least favorite pie to make. I like unique pie and since I haven’t yet had or made a bean pie, I intend to!
      Go take a nap. 😀

  4. This sounds really interesting, but I might get annoyed with all the made-up words.

    Bean pie is such a thing in the AA community. I’ve never had it before, though people keep telling me to try it since it’s so good. When you make it, let me know what you think!

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