GUEST POST BY JESSA LINGEL: I am not convinced Jonathan Safran Foer understands vegetarianism or what constitutes an interesting personal narrative.


Conflicted, conflicted. I am deeply conflicted about this book excerpt.

Okay, JSF. I get that you are trying to be honest about your long history of vegetarianism, how you were and then you weren’t, and how you understand—you really (seem to want us to think that you) understand—vegetarianism. Although to me it feels like what you really understand is the waxing and waning of personal values associated with the adoption of food-related trends.

The thing is, JSF, it’s kind of boring. You go on and on about being and then not being a vegetarian in high school, and then in college. It’s kind of, you know, not-at-all-surprising. I wish you would just tell stories about your grandmother. Because that first bit of the excerpt is compelling. It made me think you were going to talk about how the relationship between food and culture is both malleable and stubbornly rooted in (healthy?) nostalgia, which is something that I would actually like to read about. Instead, based on this excerpt, I am unsure of how a book like yours can be very good. I guess because you’re JSF you get to write a book about anything you want, even though your narrative seems utterly predictable. Truth be told, even the grandma stuff was pretty damn predictable, but I’d settle for the familiar-yet-compelling over the self-righteous-and-not-even-new.


One comment

  1. I think the grandmother was way more interesting than he was, although perhaps that was the point.

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