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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 16, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified 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
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
on April 20, 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
on May 18, 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
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
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
An amazing book. At times, Berg has a way of making you wonder if this is a first-person memoir - she's that good. This book is a collection of stories, suitable for all women, but probably more in the genre of those moving into their later years (grown children, grandchildren, etc.). I still enjoyed it, though, and can see my mom REALLY enjoying it. Heartfelt, real, sometimes sad, often funny, honest (sometimes to the point of random shock value - a couple of sexual references which were rather disarming, actually). But Berg has such deep affection for her characters that you can't help but belong in their stories. I loved how she wove similar themes and references throughout the different stories. This book makes you want to enjoy life's every possibility. Closer to 4.5 stars for me. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've never been a fan of short stories or essays, always searching for a
good long saga of a book! But, I have to change my mind about this one. There is a delightful slice of life in each and every story. I've read all Elizabeth Berg has written, loved all the books and always am waiting for the next one. While waiting for the "next novel", I recommend you read this smaller book and hope you will love it as much as I did. The writing is personal in a way that often makes you feel the author is writing about your life and your experiences. I loved every minute of it! Thanks Elizabeth Berg~!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I read all of Elizabeth Berg's books, and they are all excellent, without exception. This is the first short story book of hers, and it is wonderful. Each story stands beautifully on its own and is incredibly well written. I loved this book! My favorite story was "The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted." This story alone is worth the price of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
It's an urge nearly every modern woman has had at one time or another: why not just forget the "diet" for a day, and eat whatever I want? The title story of Elizabeth Berg's new collection, "The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted," features a woman who decides one day to do just that. The book is actually full of little acts of freedom, from a woman trying to spice up her romantic life, to three friends daring each other to make contact with an ex, to a woman deciding on a whim to take a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas. Berg has an uncanny familiarity with all walks of life, women young and old, from many different walks of life and in all sorts of realistic scenarios; readers will undoubtedly find at least one story in this little collection that will resonate with them deeply. The stories range from uplifting to heartbreaking, inspiring nearly every emotion in between. Berg is one of those wonderful writers who can instantly draw you into her stories, setting the scene with just a few quick sentences and making you feel like you already know what's going on. This is simply a wonderful collection.

Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews.
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