Title: Soup Stories: A Reconstructed Memoir
Author: CLS Ferguson
Format: Print copy mailed by author in exchange for an honest review
My rating: 4/5
Soup Stories is a coming-of-age memoir set at a salad buffet and bakery restaurant. It is a “reconstructed” memoir; a mixture of memories and fantasies, combined with the truth of perspective and experience. While each short piece stands alone as a complete vignette, the collection also reads as a cohesive narrative. Beginning in 1998, the story follows Ferguson’s ten-year journey, from being hired for the first time (outside of babysitting and household chores) to finally completing a PhD in Communication, and being hired as a full-time professor. Ferguson deftly weaves heart and humor into these tales of sex, drugs, heartbreak, failure, and redemption. While the narrative is derived from Ferguson’s reconstructed memory, memories of other’s reassigned as her own, and some complete fantasies, names (other than her own) and identifying details have been changed to protect those she loved, learned from, and ultimately released.
A roller coaster of emotions and the raw reality of where we find ourselves in the least likely of places. Crystal Lane finds herself in a number of sticky situations where it be customers or fellow employees at the Souplantation, her non-traditional family, or the boys she dates. Ferguson provides commentary in a variety of media including comedy, prose, poetry, dreams, and memories. The details and inner-workings of the restaurant branches Ferguson worked in had me looking at their website! The quick and witty stories for each chapter are stand-alones and yet combine nicely into the full life of Crystal Lane as she overcomes several situations like heartbreak, rape, family misunderstanding, education, and life in general. It is rare to feel this connected to a character who tells it how it is as well as what thoughts most of us have had but rarely speak. This personal narrative shows the power of what working in a place that some would turn their nose to has in one’s life. There is a humility there as Crystal Lane navigates the ins and outs of a business both behind the scenes and on the front-lines – laughing and learning along the way.
Read Soup Stories: A Reconstructed Memoir if you like the themes of:
- Coming of Age