Catherine Siemann's Reviews > My Year of Meats

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
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Aug 05, 2010

it was amazing
Read from August 03 to 05, 2010

I'm not sure, on an objective critical level, that this is a five-star book, but once in awhile, I just don't care. The novel has two viewpoint characters. First-person narrator Jane Takagi-Little, an unemployed documentarian in the East Village who finds herself in the compromised position of producing My American Wife!, a show designed to promote consumption of beef in the Japanese market. She's also got a complicated non-romance with a jazz musician. The other main character, whose story is told in the third person, is Akiko Ueno, the wife of the show's executive producer in Japan, Joichi "John" Ueno (say it aloud). Akiko struggles with issues of bulimia, infertility, and spousal abuse. Ozeki manages to make many of the same points Michael Pollan has been making lately, and while the narrative sometimes comes to a screeching halt for a couple of pages while we're informed about DES or the conditions on cattle feedlots or etc., Ozeki keeps the reader engaged. The various "American wives" and their families aren't Jerry Springer laughingstocks, but a sympathetic cross-section; Jane is strong and flawed and interesting, and oppressed Akiko, who could easily veer into stereotype, turns out to have depth and strength. Bookslut.com's Jessa Crispin included this in a list called "Bright Books for Dark Times"; I'm glad I picked it up.
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