Food for Thought

Stir by Barbara Lynch

While browsing at my favorite local bookstore, I flipped through Barbara Lynch’s new cookbook Stir. Check out this choice bit of jacket copy:

Lynch’s cuisine is all the more remarkable because it is self-taught. In a story straight out of Good Will Hunting, she grew up in the turbulent projects of “Southie”, where petty crime was the only viable way to make a living…. Through a mix of hunger for knowledge, hard work, and raw smarts, she gradually created her own distinctive style of cooking….

The publisher has betrayed a fundamentally flawed—and, I think, commonly held—understanding of Good Will Hunting. True, Barbara Lynch and Will Hunting are both from Southie (notice the publisher’s timid quotation marks). But while Lynch’s rise to fame from unlikely roots as a result of her “hunger for knowledge, hard work, and raw smarts” is admirable, it is hardly the same as Will Hunting’s story.

Will Hunting does not work hard. Will’s remarkable gifts are unearned; as he puts it, he could “always just play.” At the beginning of the movie, Will is an under-employed genius with little more than (presumably) a high school diploma. At the end of the movie, he is an unemployed genius who has turned down multiple job offers and rejected academia to “see about a girl.”

Good Will Hunting is not the story of an underdog going up against the establishment and, against all odds, making good. That’s Finding Forrester, a much less satisfying film. Good Will Hunting is the story of a lonely orphan boy who learns to love and be loved. Will’s remarkable abilities are nothing more than a plot device.

But I don’t think that story will help sell cookbooks.

Published by

Mike

Mike never saw GWH in theaters. He has been atoning for this transgression ever since by cultivating a deep and loving appreciation for the film. Mike once met Gordon Wood; they discussed the pre-Revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.

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