Ellen Librarian's Reviews > My Year of Meats

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
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's review
Apr 17, 2011

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Read in April, 2011

This fun, interesting and unusual novel was almost great. It's got to be one of the most original stories ever: A Japanese-American documentarian gets a job producing a Japanese reality television series sponsored by an American beef trade group. Though the show visits a different American household each week and showcases its American, meat-filled meals, the real purpose is to entice Japanese housewives into buying and serving American meat. In the course of producing the series, the protagonist discovers some disturbing truths - the real reality you might say - about American meat production and, unfortunately, that's when the novel veers off course into a fictionalized manifesto against agribusiness and more.

Ozeki is a good writer and there are lots of funny, touching and horrific scenes. But there were a number of plot points that I found too hard to believe, a number of characters that are just too cartoonish. I got the feeling she fixed characters and plot around her political points rather than vice versa. Still, Ozeki knows how to tell a story and her droll takes on the world of media, corporate sponsorship and the cross-cultural (mis)communications between Japan and the USA are priceless. I wish she had kept her focus there instead of going for the heavy-handed anti-meat infomercial as thinly veiled as fiction as her fictional TV show was as real.

Still, it's an enjoyable, engrossing book.

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