- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Gallery Books; 1St Edition edition (September 6, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1439192464
- ISBN-13: 978-1439192467
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Man Who Couldn't Eat Hardcover – September 6, 2011
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“An inspiring, incredible tale.” —Starred Kirkus Reviews
“In this engrossing and candid memoir, James Beard Award–winning writer Reiner tells of his doctor's orders following a diagnosis of a torn intestine: eat nothing. Reiner, who at age 46 had a history of Crohn's disease, gets even more bad news when emergency surgery results in a severely infected abdomen, among other complications, that force him to get his nutrition intravenously. The bulk of the book is given over to the singular experience of not eating at all and the graphic details of his treatment, while chronicling its impact on the author, his wife, and his two young sons. He endures a feverish dream of food-related memories from his childhood in the Caribbean and his adulthood in New York. Questions of mortality and even suicide arise, and while the immediate ability to taste does not return, the narrator's capacity for eating solid food eventually does, though swinging at times between extremes of hunger and appetite. Reiner's use of detail amid the haze of sickness sometimes tests the suspension of disbelief, but as a piece of writing it's fearless and singular.” —Publishers Weekly
"Jon Reiner has thrown the door to the mysterious world of chronic illness wide open in The Man Who Couldn't Eat, a memoir of an experience that is as illuminating to read about as it was horrifying to live. This wholly enthralling book will make you appreciate every breath you take—and every bite you eat." —Terry Teachout, drama critic for The Wall Street Journal and author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstorng
"Reiner has the moxie and the courage not only to tell the harrowingly real story of his fight to stay alive, but to do so with detachment and a crazy sense of irony. His memoir about food, hunger, and a near-death experience is a food lover’s nightmare and—with his food memories as the focal point—a necessary read." —Jonathan Waxman, author of Italian, My Way
"I will never take eating for granted again. Wow! What a roller coaster. All I kept thinking was, You cannot be serious! But he was." —John McEnroe, author of You Cannot Be Serious
“I have spent years of my life obsessing about my weight, feeling guilt over every mouthful. Jon Reiner's magnificent and devastating memoir, The Man Who Couldn't Eat, accomplished the impossible. It made me shut up and enjoy my food.” —Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
“Reiner is such a vivid writer that this first-person account of a food lover’s descent into hell is, at turns, gripping, horrifying, excruciating and, ultimately, redeeming.” —Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, James Beard Award-winning authors of The Flavor Bible and The Food Lover's Guide to Wine
“Reiner writes a horrendously funny account of his condition in which food is his mortal enemy. He is the Olympian of a modern truth—our daily bread has it in for us—and his book hits the mark.” —Lore Segal, author of Her First American and Shakespeare's Kitchen
About the Author
JON REINER won the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award for Magazine Feature Writing with Recipes for the collaborative Esquire article “How Men Eat.” His memoir, The Man Who Couldn’t Eat, is based on an acclaimed article of the same name that he wrote for Esquire in 2009. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
Top customer reviews
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Downer? Defiantly not.
The Man Who Couldn't Eat chronicles Jon Reiner's sudden descent into (and faltering emergence from) a near-fatal and complication-fraught episode of Crohn's disease, for which the optimal treatment is a form of starvation called NPO -- no oral intake of solids or liquids for three months. In the inverted reality he comes to inhabit - and which inhabits him - normal nourishment is the enemy.
How does he manage an existence defined by absence and abstinence? Reiner responds to his forced anorexia with insatiable longings and a lifetime's worth of deliriously detailed, rapid-fire, food-centric acid flashbacks that prompt him to examine what it is to be alive while prohibited from that most essential social and self-sustaining act of eating. His first hot pastrami, dried apricots, New England lobster rolls... Reiner wrings improbable pleasure and poignancy even from the memory of inedible Thanksgiving chestnuts.
Proust and his petites madeleines have nothing on The Man Who Couldn't Eat.
Jennifer C. Jaff, Esq.
Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc.
Reiner's raw storytelling is certainly not "sugar coated." Chrone's disease wreaks havoc not only on the victim's health, but also his/her way of lifestyle and the lifestyle of those around him/her. A scene where Reiner longingly looks at the salt-coated crinkles of a french fry and eventually licks despite his NPO (nil per os/nothing by mouth) status mirrors unrequited love.
When reflecting on his numerous stays at the hospital, Reiner writes, " . . . hospitals have a way of breeding confessions," (189). Adept at description, Reiner includes the reader in every page, paragraph, and sentence. Having recently been hospitalized, I recounted learning of a nurse's dysfunctional ex as well as the organic eating requirements of another nurse and wondering what truths I revealed while under the influence of pain killers and lying vulnerable in a hospital bed.
For book club purposes, an evening of appetizers at Nosh was offered to the Feast Book Club at independent bookseller Left Bank Books in the Central West End in St. Louis.
This is more than not eating. It is a sensitive story with feeling, with humor, with love and pain. It is engrossing from the first page.
Beyond the suffering, and food deprivation, it is heartwarming to read of the caring friends and family who helped see them through this tragedy.
A must read!