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The Man Who Couldn't Eat by Jon Reiner

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the tradition of The Last Lecture and Three Cups of Tea, and inspired by his much-praised 2009 Esquire article, “The Man Who Couldn’t Eat,” a famed food writer chronicles his battle with Crohn’s disease.
Jon Reiner was middle-aged, happily married with two children, living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and acclimating to his role as primary parent-caregiver when he suffered a near-fatal collapse due to complications from his chronic battle with Crohn’s disease. From that point, he was forbidden from eating food, fed intravenously, and denied the pleasures of taste, which, as an award-winning food writer, had been a central part of his life. In Curb Your Appetite, Reiner reinvents the foodoir, recounting what happens when a man obsessed with food cannot eat, and what happened to his family as a result. Coping with illness, unemployment, and financial ruin spun him into a deep depression, straining his relationship with his wife and children. It was this deprivation, ironically, that forced Jon to recognize what he’d been taking for granted.
Eloquent and powerful, this is one man’s journey from deprivation and despair to ultimately acceptance and appreciation of what is truly important.

Goodreads Summary

The memoir opens with Reiner telling the reader a little bit of background about himself.  He is a glutton in a greyhound's body.  He has to live in a self-imposed exile from many of the foods he enjoys eating.  He lets the reader in on the pain he experiences due to Crohn's.  His own kids must eat healthy due to his fear of passing on the disease to his children compounded by the fact that his wife has diabetes in her family.  He goes on to tell the reality of living with Crohn's disease.  The reader will be taken through a very detailed account, he holds nothing back. 

The memoir is told from Jon's point of view, it really adds to the book.  The opinions of his children, wife, and friends are less subtle, but the are in the book and help the reader to form his/her own opinion on Crohn's from different viewpoints.  The events range from excruciatingly painful (when he is having an attack) to mildly painful (when he attempts to eat light and follows an extremely restrictive diet).  The idea of Crohn's disease is awful to those of us who never experience it, but it is rare to receive a first-hand account; Crohn's will become much more real to the reader.  This memoir is recommended to readers who enjoy nonfiction, reality, diet books. 

4 Stars