By Barbara Vancheri
The only thing that might have made “Still Life With Bread Crumbs” more enjoyable would have been a summer’s day so I could have read it outside, instead of huddled near a space heater.
It’s the seventh novel from Anna Quindlen, the former New York Times columnist who won the Pulitzer Prize, wrote regularly for Newsweek and published the slender “A Short Guide to a Happy Life,” which has sold more than 1 million copies, many to moms, aunts, grandmothers, family friends and others looking for a little something special to wrap and pair with a check tucked into a graduation card.
She wrote the novel “One True Thing,” turned into the film earning Meryl Streep her 11th Oscar nomination as a dying wife and mother. I could see “Still Life” as a movie, with a superb role for a 60-year-old actress or someone younger but willing to play older such as Annette Bening.
The book takes its title from the most famous photograph ever taken by protagonist Rebecca Winter. It happened years earlier after an exhausting day nursing a toddler with an ear infection and cooking for her husband and his four surprise dinner guests.
She fell asleep on the couch in their Manhattan apartment, awoke still fatigued and angry, grabbed her new camera and clicked away, never sure of the whys.
“Over the years she’d made up a lot of reasons because people didn’t seem to like the arbitrariness of the reality,” Ms. Quindlen writes.
“They also didn’t believe that she’d simply photographed what was already there, a bottle lying on its side with a puddle of olive oil shimmering along its curved lip, a handful of greasy forks glistening in the overhead lights and … a vaguely Flemish composition of dirty wineglasses, stacked plates, the torn ends of two baguettes, and a dish towel singed at one corner by the gas stove.”