‘Making Piece’ Author Beth M. Howard Tours the West to Talk Love, Loss and Pie

Author of Making Piece on her Pie Tour

Beth M. Howard, with her Pie Tour RV and several pies, in Malibu, CA, for a reading from her new memoir, "Making Piece."

We caught up with Beth M. Howard, 50, author of Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie (Harlequin, 2012), in Malibu, CA, at independent bookseller Diesel. Even before Howard revealed a word of her poignant story, we knew this reading was going to be way better than your average author appearance since it involved generous servings of, yes, pie.

Howard is on a monthlong California and Texas book tour, which includes readings, pie-making demos and classes to publicize the intertwined stories of her commitment to “pie it forward” with her The World Needs More Pie business and her grief over the sudden death of her 43-year-old husband in 2009. But Howard’s exploration of loss is complex because her husband of six years was slated to sign divorce papers on the day of his near-instantaneous death by an aortal rupture.

We found Howard’s descriptions of the nuances of grief and guilt to be one of the most honest and authentic accounts we’ve read. We also learned a lot about baking pies, which seems like an odd (and maybe even inappropriate) combination, but we have to say that it totally works as an engaging and moving narrative, balancing humor against pathos. The book contains five pie recipes at the end, including the apple one that features heavily in the story.

Pie is arguably a quintessential American dessert, so it’s appropriate that Howard runs Pitchfork Pie Stand from her home, the American Gothic House in Eldon, IA, from Memorial Day to Labor Day on weekends (noon to 5 p.m.). If you want to catch up with Howard, check her tour dates or book a trip to Orlando, FL, to attend the 17th annual Crisco National Pie Championships at the Great American Pie Festival April 27–29, where she is serving as a judge.

What’s your opinion on food memoirs?