Robert Pinsky reviews ‘Save Room for Pie,’ by Roy Blount Jr.

In the New York Times:

9780374175207“Comedy is music,” Sid Caesar wrote in his autobiography. The great comic follows that crisp sentence with another nearly as brief, seven additional words for those who need an explanation: “It has a rhythm and a melody.”

An expert like Roy Blount Jr., as the old borscht belt masters might say, knows from rhythm and melody. His prose can sing in deft comic riffs, as when he is celebrating, criticizing or just chanting lore about food, the ostensible subject of his new book, “Save Room for Pie.” For example, about a memorable bit of street food he consumed in New Orleans: “I had a kimchi pancake with pork-belly hash that made me want to shout.”

In a less celebratory moment, here’s another example, a melodic turn making its discriminations about an important food of Blount’s native South: “ ‘I like grits,’ Chet Atkins used to say, ‘because they have no bones.’ I take his point. But instant grits — no. Too close to grit foam. You don’t want grits to grate, but however near fluffy they’ve been cooked down to, they should retain a gritty gist.”

More here.