I'm delighted to introduce author, Alison Pick, to my blog. Alison is the author of acclaimed new novel Far to Go, a beautifully written account of a Jewish family living in Czechoslovakia just before World War II, whose existence is threatened with the arrival of German forces.
I'll be posting a full review of the novel next week, but in the meantime Alison tells us about one of her favourite books ...
To ask a writer about her favourite book is like asking Old Mother Hubbard which of her many children she prefers. Which is to say, there is no single answer, or the answer changes from moment to moment, day to day. Still, though, it’s something I love to ask other people, with the understanding that tomorrow the answer will be different.
So. At the moment, the book I love the most, the one that is keeping me up at night, is called ‘Everything I Ate: A Year in the Life of my Mouth.’ It is a fairly straight-forward concept book in which the author, a photographer, took a picture of every single morsel he consumed over the course of an entire calendar. It seemed, on first glance, somewhat banal. As I started turning the pages, though, I realized it was in fact incredibly intimate. Food is deeply personal, we all know that, but to see these photographs laid out, mediated only by the barest amount of text, was like reading someone’s private diary.
I wanted to look away. I felt I should look away. But I just couldn’t.
For someone who spends their life immersed in Literature with a capital L, there was also a palpable relief in a book like this. It was a gift from my old publicist—another reason I love it—and I gather he felt the same. There is no investment. You don’t need to give yourself to this book, try the first chapter and see where it leads. Rather, it just takes you and won’t let you go.
Part of what makes this book fascinating is that the author’s eating habits are atrocious. From January to December there is nary a vegetable to be seen. A handful of green beans, the occasional salad at a restaurant or a friend’s home. Mostly, though, our hero eats cookies. And cupcakes. And grilled cheese, and burgers, and enough pizza to feed a small African nation. All of this is documented without the least trace of self-consciousness. On the contrary, I came away with a sense of the author’s true reverence for food. What we eat, he seems to imply, is who we are, and both are cause for celebration.
I don’t think it’s too much to say that this book will change the way you feel about food.