Frances Stonor Saunders on the London Review Cake Shop

The opening of the London Review Cake Shop has drawn attention to the long history of cake as a source of literary inspiration. The writer's muse is usually a person, most often a woman, but occasionally it assumes other forms. Flaubert was inspired by an overripe pear, while Brecht kept a wooden donkey on his desk around whose neck was a sign that read "Even I must understand" (yawn). Proust evoked a whole world of memories through a madeleine, and there is an anthology on cakes in literature waiting to be written. Think of Walter de la Mare's exuberant poem The Cupboard ("And there's a dish of Banbury Cakes/For me, me, me"), or the cake that cuts itself in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I myself find a cupcake an indispensable ingredient of the writer's life. I can make my own, but that takes time, time better used in eating them, so I get them by the cartload from the Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road (which boasts a serious literary connection, having been founded by Tarek Malouf, son of the great Lebanese novelist Hanan al-Shaykh). All of my failures in writing I put down to an interruption in the supply of cupcakes. It's probably time to acknowledge that I am addicted. Who cares? Where's the harm? Think about it: how often do you see writers who are fat? By writer, I mean someone who is professionally engaged in the act of writing, rather than someone who is something else and then happens to write about it (someone who novelises the experience of being fat, for example). Given the sedentary requirements of writing, you might expect most writers to be lardy, but the opposite is true. The odd barrel-shaped scribe excluded, writers tend to be lean, often scrawny specimens. Maybe this is why they do what they do. Ill-suited to the rigours of bailing hay or welding lampposts, writers are bound by their weedy DNA to be writers. And they need all the help they can get. So let them eat cake!

Thanks to who have provided this article. View the original here.


comments powered by Disqus