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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ex-library book. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting.
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The Man Who Couldn't Eat Hardcover – September 6, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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.

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Product Details

  • 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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Jaff on October 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book -- which I could not put down -- is a beautifully narrated tale of what it's like to live with chronic illness. Jon's descriptive abilities are quite marvelous. But as a person with a chronic illness who represents people with chronic illness, I think this book should be required reading -- not just for patients, but for their families, as well. The lesson of embracing the uncertainty inherent in chronic illness is so important. But Jon tells it in a very lovely, loving way, that doesn't hit you over the head with advice, but which leads by example. Jon's candor and willingness to share the intimate details of a harrowing time in his life is exemplary. I'm very grateful to Jon for writing this.
Jennifer C. Jaff, Esq.
Executive Director
Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc.
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Format: Hardcover
But now I do. When I read nonfiction, I want to learn something and feel something. The Man Who Couldn't Eat does both, without self-pity. I hate reading memoirs about illness when the person just whines and talks about their symptoms. The author's descriptions of food and the memories associated with food really take this memoir from ordinary to sublime--his illness becomes to relatable to the everyday reader, and his struggles take on an almost symbolic quality. Additionally, he talks about his family and how his illness affected them in so many ways--something I often wonder about when reading other memoirs. If you're looking for a read that will make you so incredibly grateful for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich--this is it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disease. Deprivation. Desire. Disconsolation.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
The Man Who Couldn't Eat is Jon Reiner's candid memoir about living with Crohn's disease. Jon, like most of us, loves food. Yet as he lives with this illness, his life is changed in many ways and the wrong foods can be his body's worst enemy.

Amazingly Jon has gone several months without food or water. He was hooked up to an IV in a hospital room when his intestines burst while he was home alone. When he was finally able to leave the hospital, he was still unable to eat and was fed intravenously. The agony of his situation is really unbelievable. I think taking food away is torture not only for the body, but for the mind as well. Food is comforting. I was shocked and very much moved as I read Jon's story.

As you read, Jon takes you back and forth from current day, to his childhood, and throughout different events in his life. You get to see the connection he has with certain foods, like most of us have. He is a great storyteller and as I read his story I was totally swept in. He describes food and the way it ties in with culture really well.

In between living with this painful illness, Jon has to balance his family life. Crohn's disease has made him a stay at home dad. His wife works while he cares for the children, yet when his intestines burst, he actually found the strength to call someone to pick up the kids from school for him that day. His descriptions of the pain and the procedures he has gone through were really heart wrenching and had me gasping in shock.

Crohn's disease does not have a cure, yet Jon doesn't feel sorry for himself, he doesn't ask for pity, he tells his story candidly and I found this to be an inspirational memoir.
I teared up as he speaks about his young children and their reactions his being sick.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book. Jon Reiner is an amazing story teller. He takes something that most of us would consider impossible - going without food OR WATER for a full 3 months to help cure a gastro-intestinal medical emergency - and makes it come to life in his page-turning memoir. He openly discusses his medical condition, and how his doctors (all leaders in their field) were often stymied by his case. No one has a magic cure for his problem, and much of what they prescribe is a best guess. He needs to find meaning in his experience, and fortunately he does. Despite the dire frustration he shares, and the crazy things he does in his deepest moments, he is able to instill humor and humanity to his experience which makes this book widely appealing. For anyone who has been at the depths of a serious illness, or who has known anyone at the depths of a serious illness, this is the ultimate story of hope.
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