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My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
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Jan 11, 09

bookshelves: food-politics
Read in January, 2009

The premise in this novel -- that the protagonist is directing episodes of a Japanese television program called My American Wife!, sponsored by the American beef industry -- is full of promise. The glorification of meat through a hokey foreign television program sets the stage for some very funny moments. But the darker side of the novel dominates. Everything that is wrong with American feedlot-produced beef is material in this novel sometimes quite graphically. And some of the plot devices are quite contrived.

Good novels have the ability to take you inside the thought processes of the characters. Not-as-good novels contain passages where the characters literally tell you what they are thinking or directly explain things that would better be conveyed through action and dialogue. The author turns some good phrases ("cheap meat is an unaienable right in the U.S.A.") but leaves me wishing that this material has been handled with a little more artistry.
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