Wednesday, February 06, 2013

What We Are Reading Now...

Tinkers, Paul Harding’s first novel, languished in a desk drawer for nearly three years after being rejected by major publishers. But when a small printing press finally published the book, it took the literary world by storm and won the Pulitzer Prize. What astounded me about this short novel was the author’s otherworldly details and descriptions (so electrifying that I felt like I inhabited another person’s very senses), and his bringing to life the character of Howard, a gentle epileptic man who worked as a tinker in an impoverished New England town. Despite the harsh, cold conditions of life in this novel, Harding’s warm and compassionate writing left me with a feeling of renewal and even joy.

Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, takes on the subject of food in Eating Animals, which is part detective story, and part memoir. Although the book involved a tremendous amount of research and objectivity, it reads like a story, with Foer’s unique, experimental, and sometimes humorous style. The author sneaks into a factory farm at night, visits a slaughterhouse, and investigates some of the many stories we use to justify our eating habits. After learning the horrifying truth and refusing to forget and stay in denial about it, Foer acknowledges meeting the gaze of a farmed animal and feeling relief and peace that he no longer eats them: “I simply cannot feel whole when so knowingly, so deliberately, forgetting.” (p. 198)
From its exposure of modern farming methods, to its reports about ecological waste, pollution, and health concerns, this book presents a convincing story that has the power to wake consumers up, out of a “brutal forgetting.”



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