Author and Books Are Magic owner Emma Straub’s newest novel, All Adults Here, is out this week — and it’s full of food. “For someone who is not a very good cook, all of my books always have a lot of food in them,” she says. All Adults Here, which is set in the Hudson Valley, partly takes place in a small-town diner — “I really miss diners,” Straub says — as well as on a goat farm, where goat cheese is produced.
“I’m a cheesehead at my core, and I did genuinely just want to write a book about cheese.” For years, she had the basic idea about this book — a book full of cheese puns and “nitty-gritty” cheese-making scenes. The way it turned out, though, “the book isn’t about cheese at all,” though there is cheese in it; All Adults Here is more about a family that loves food. That’s a common thread between many of her books; there’s the mom who cooks for her family on their trip to Mallorca in The Vacationers and the restaurant-owning couple navigating their relationship with each other, their friends, and their kid in Modern Lovers.
“Food is such a way to feel like you are doing something really tangible for someone, especially for people who find it hard to use words to convey feelings,” says Straub. And when asked how she thinks about writing her food scenes, she adds, “I genuinely enjoy eating, so my characters do too. Someone enjoying eating to me is like someone having a sense of humor — if they didn’t, why would you want to hang out with them? And when you write books, you have to spend a lot of time with these people.”
For people who are having trouble reading during the pandemic, Straub’s advice is to think about how you’re choosing what you read. “I know [from running Books Are Magic] there are a lot of people right now who are reading War and Peace and who are reading Middlemarch, but I would guess those are not the same people who are home with small children, suddenly in charge of homeschooling and all the child care all the time. So that’s not what I’m reading,” she says. Instead, she’s reading rom-coms and YA, or suggests thrillers like Andrea Bartz’s The Herd. “[Read something] that’s not going to make you feel like there’s a quiz afterwards. If you choose things that are propulsive and truly entertaining, then it’s a lot easier to get through a book at the end of the day when you’re exhausted.”
All Adults Here is now available for purchase from Straub’s bookstore, Books Are Magic, or wherever you buy your books. Below, find an excerpt from the new book and hear the author read from it as part of the Eater at Home virtual event series on Instagram Live.