American Oil, French Vinegar
Barbara Klein Craig
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Buy *American Oil, French Vinegar: A Recipe for Artistic Humor* by Barbara Klein Craig online

American Oil, French Vinegar: A Recipe for Artistic Humor
Barbara Klein Craig
Pelican Press
164 pages
January 2005
rated 2 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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It has become fashionable, after spending a year in France, to write a book reminiscing about the experience. Barbara Klein Craig is a Floridian artist who moved to Provence with her husband, Alan, and son, Alexander, when Alan got transferred there for a year of job training.

This move coincided with the United States's declaration of war on Iraq. Since the French government did not agree with the U.S. on this war, the book description suggests the French non-support of the American war effort would cause conflicts for the Craig family in Provence. This animosity is not supported by the text. If anyone makes derogatory remarks, it is the author referring to a delivery man as "Frenchie." Alas, I never found the humor promised in the title.

Craig's book is formatted as a series of emails home to friends, family, and her left-behind dog. These are interspersed with photos, digital photos, watercolors, acrylics and pen-and-ink drawings. The emails are sketchy and never develop the depth of description that would be found in prose or even old-fashioned written letters.

On going to a bullfight she writes: "I was a little nervous, as you hear so many stories about this kind of event; but decided to go and judge for myself. When Yves explained some of the history and traditions of the south (Spain and Italy), it seemed much more respectable." She does not share any of this acquired history or tradition.

Rereading the back cover, I'm awestruck by how little it describes the actual text inside. The artwork is very colorful, and this yearbook will be enjoyed by the author's family and friends.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Midge Bork, 2007

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