Book Review: The Chicken Chronicles



Title: The Chicken Chronicles

Author: Alice Walker

Genre: Essay/Memoir

Publisher: The New Press

Length: 186 pages

Library: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh–Squirrel Hill

Challenge: Books and Movies 2013 Essay Challenge


Summary: A veteran author muses about life, the universe, and everything, using her chicken-raising project as the jumping-off point.


This short, meditative collection, which grew out of the author’s blog, is the perfect example of how, in the hands of a skilled author, any topic can serve as a point of inquiry for exploring life’s deeper questions. Walker spent a lot of time sitting in the yard with her chickens, observing their behavior, and recording the various topics of which they put her in mind, stretching from the ethics of eating meat to childhood memories (and subsequent insights). The result is a gentle package of thoughtful writing, almost like a bouquet of flowers, something a reader can easily dip into and wonder about.

The book works on a literal level, too: Walker’s chickens are both gorgeous and adorable, two adjectives you wouldn’t think described the average chicken, but really do. Walker describes her charges with such joy and wonder that you can easily see how a lifetime of reading, thinking, and observing has colored her interpretation of even the most ordinary things, and even if you only care about chickens when they’re crunchy and fried, you’ll find yourself smiling at her unabashed love for them, a love that ripples out to touch the whole world.

Recommended for: loyal Alice Walker fans, as well as readers who like Wendell Berry. Readers looking for something gentle, soothing, and short. Folks who practice meditation, Buddhist or otherwise (it really is a great example of contemplation in action). Anybody who raises chickens, or wants to, as well as anybody who needs a break from more exciting topics.

I seem to be finishing a book a day, though I’ve started a non-fiction work this morning that might break that streak – it’s pretty intense. Hopefully I’ll be able to review tomorrow the book I read yesterday.

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Chicken Chronicles”

  1. I am definitely adding this to my to-read list, as Wendell Berry is one of my top five favorite authors. Great review!

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