Book Review: Sourdough

I was a huge fan of Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, so when I saw this book was by the same author on Amazon, that jumped this book to the top of the list. Add on to that, the fact that it was set in the world of technology and food (two of my favorite things), that made this book jump right to the top of the queue. And I am glad it did.

The book is well written, was digestible in quick bites and entertaining throughout. If I have one issue with the book it is that the ending seems abrupt. There is a lot of time spent in building up the final act and then when it happens, it sort of ends quickly and the book is over. I felt Sloan could have explored the fall out from the final act instead of wrapping it up so quickly. Maybe just another chapter or two that added in some background and motivations to the way things ended, but unforuntately that wasn't there.

But back to the good stuff:

  • Writing

  • Topic

  • Weaving of technology and food

  • Honest depiction of technology and its workplace environment

It's sort of amazing to me that a book entitled Sourdough was able to capture just how I have felt at different times while working. The "why am I doing this?" feeling and thinking there are other things I could be doing that I would enjoy more. In this novel, the protagonist (Lois) finds a "restaurant" that provides some great bread and spicy soup and starts eating that and feeling better versus eating the slurry drink (think Soylent) that has no flavor but allows her to work more. After that restaurant owners are deported (maybe a political commentary in there, but it wasn't played out heavily and felt more like a way to move the plot forward) they provide Lois with their sourdough starter.

This sourdough starter is the beginning of Lois' journey into learning about how to bake bread. But this sourdough starter is weird, and probably mystic. The bread's crust always ends up with faces on it; sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes neutral. Lois brings this bread into the office where her co-workers love it and even the four-star chef who is now the corporate chef for her tech company. This chef asks Lois how many loaves she can make and offers to buy it from her every morning. Lois now has a bread baking business, and her life takes on a dual role, software developer by day and bread backer by night and morning. She loves it.

Eventually, she tries out for the Ferry Building's Farmers' Market, but isn't selected. Though she is picked for an expirimental market which seems to be pushing the advance in food technology. Lois' bread is great, but the proprieter wants to see how she can integrate her tech work in building out alogorithms and skills for a robotic hands to do every day tasks. The rest of the novel continues in a quick pace as Lois learns more about herself, technology, the sourdough culture, and the people around her leading up to a finale that probably highlights so much of the San Francisco (actually any business) culture it is just a perfect conclusion.

Quick Review: 4 out of 5 stars.