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The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: Stories (Random House Large Print) Paperback – Large Print, April 15, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this collection of mostly uplifting stories, Berg (Dream When You're Feeling Blue) explores the everyday challenges that women face. Whether teenaged or octogenarian, Berg's heroines brave the emotional landmines underlying domestic scenes (from holiday dinner parties to visiting family), navigate the slippery slope of constant dieting and address the process of aging. The title story features an unnamed, insouciant narrator who flees from a Weight Watchers meeting and allows herself to indulge her most fattening food cravings. In Full Count, an introspective army brat begins to decipher what she looks like to others. The wistful and nostalgic Rain features a woman reminiscing about a good friend who dropped his successful corporate life to live closer to nature. Berg's men are surprisingly supportive and well behaved; it is often the women in these stories who manipulate and mistreat their partners. The protagonist of Truth or Dare, for example, struggles to accept that her ex-husband moved on after she left him. Berg has a knack for sentimental but authentic stories about women who find affirmation in true-to-life situations, and if her endings are slightly predictable, it's in a good way, like comfort food that never disappoints. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Food is the source of both solace and misery for Berg’s smart, ticked-off, secretly dreamy yet demonstrably pragmatic women. Most are past 50 and less than happy with their altered bodies. They dutifully attend deadly Weight Watchers meetings, cheat wildly on their diets, then try, once again, to stay away from brownies and fast food. The binge story, “The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted,” is matched by “The Day I Ate Nothing I Remotely Wanted,” and clearly the insatiable appetite for rich and comforting foods stems from a deeper hunger for enveloping and sustaining love. This is adored author Berg’s second story collection, separated from the first, Ordinary Life (2002), by seven novels, and once again she makes striking use of the shorter form. Her stories are deliciously piquant and deceptively blithe, just as the respectable appearances of her women characters conceal fierce inner lives. Berg zeros in on the routine unfairness women face, and the anguish and irony of age and family relationships, as her bawdy, scheming, outspoken, and loyal women persevere, often finding the humorous side of difficult predicaments. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Random House Large Print
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Large Print; Lrg edition (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739327836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739327838
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,634,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

These short stories really engage you in the characters life.
Amy H
Others seemed like characters the author just couldn't develop in a long story, so she threw them in a book.
Valerie Greenfield
I've read all Elizabeth Berg has written, loved all the books and always am waiting for the next one.
Karen Elliott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Julie Neal VINE VOICE on April 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Berg's stories remind me of Anna Quindlen's. Both women can make me laugh out loud; both can make me cry.

In the title story, the narrator leaves a Weight Watchers meeting and vows to eat whatever she wants all day long. She starts out at Dunkin' Donuts, carrying a box of her favorites to her car. "I looked around and there was no one so I ran my tongue along every single surface of every single donut.... Sexual in a way, but more yeasty and better." Later she gives precise directions from Chicago's O'Hare airport to a Superdawg -- just in case you share her passion for Whoopercheesies.

More poignant stories describe an elderly couple's old dog dying and a chance encounter a middle-aged woman has with her first love.

What all of the stories share is humanity. Regardless of which one you're reading, you find yourself nodding your head, thinking "Yes, that's true."

Here's the list of stories:
1. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
2. Returns and Exchanges
3. The Party
4. Over the Hill and into the Woods
5. Full Count
6. Rain
7. The Day I Ate Nothing I Even Remotely Wanted
8. Mrs. Ethel Menafee and Mrs. Birdie Stoltz
9. Double Diet
10. The Only One of Millions Just Like Him
11. Truth or Dare
12. How to Make an Apple Pie
13. Sin City

The hardback itself has no dust jacket and is an odd size, with a taller-than-normal proportion. Its title type and accompanying illustration are done in shiny, hot-pink foil.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By My Inner Chick on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Berg has her mojo back; that voice that made me love her from the very beginning, that voice that grinds a heart directly to the ground, that voice that understands a woman.

Ms. Berg, I've been waiting for you to return to me, and you have---you have! Thank you.

"The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted" is a series of thirteen essays, each one more delicious than the next; all of them beautifully constructed: Returns and Exchanges, The Party, Rain, Double Diet, Truth or Dare, Sin City. All of the stories will dig inside the reader's being like an old friend, a memory, or a pleasure, which they've lost or found again. Berg inserts food in each story as its own character.

Once again, I will compare Berg's writing to an ice-cream sundae, and her newest gem is a Lollapalooza. The only problem was...I wanted more!

Thank you, Ms. Berg for bringing your rich voice back for you fans to savor.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Phylora on April 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I loved all of these stories - LOVED them - all the funny Weight Watchers stories - there's not a woman out there who won't identify - and the heartbreaking Rain and Full Count. But really, all of these wonderful stories have a little funny and hearbreak in them. Sometimes you laugh out loud and other times you sniff and tear up, other times you find yourself nodding in agreement, like Amen to that sister. You may have to clutch your heart or stifle a yelp so be prepared if you're on the bus or something, or like me, at Starbucks, and realized I'd laughed out loud. Give this book to your girlfriends! They'll totally love it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Judy Markey on May 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's like having had your first piece of your most favorite pie, and even though you are sated and happy, you just can't resist a second helping. Even people who don't dine on short stories will adore this. Elizabeth Berg's characters are like a more interesting, pithy (but real) version of people we know, or want to know. Sweet foibles, tender relationships, hilarious ancillary observations -- all of it is there. Personally, I was a sucker for the title story (which no woman in America can't identify with) and two others -- one about two aging friends having to talk in code about death, and one ostensibly about making a perfect apple pie, but in fact is a smashingly insightful rumination about life. I read about 80 books a year, and this is the first one in a long time that I have bought almost ten copies of for my friends. I just couldn't take the chance that they wouldn't have it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julie M. Krintzman on April 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I haven't even read more than two stories yet, but I loved them so much I wanted to post right away!

"The Day I ate whatever I wanted" and its sister story are so funny, charming, and enlightening that I don't even care if I like the others (which I'm SURE I will). I'm just glad I own this book so I can read those two again and again.

In fact, I canceled my weekend plans so I can finish the rest. (While eating a box of Dunkin Donuts). :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary G. Longorio VINE VOICE on August 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Berg returns with a collection of stories of women in everyday life. From twelve year old Janey on the move with her family from Texas to North Dakota, to seventy five year old Helen Donnelly feeling like she doesn't fit in with her family anymore...these portraits are of women in everyday life. Berg has the ability to bring both hilarity and pathos to these portraits without making her characters cartoonish. What makes this book so readable are the humanity of these characters and the familiarity of their lives. My favorites....Agnes working at her dating service faced with the prospect of coming face to face with her first love and the woman who falls off the weigh Watcher's wagon for a day. The dialog rings true and this book will make you smile and nod your head in recognition. This book is worth the purchase price simply for the Helen Donnelly's internal rant about needing more guilt and shame....very unPC, but I confess I have had those thoughts myself.
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