Jami Attenberg's new novel The Middlesteins follows a Midwest family that is forced to face or ignore its problems when its matriarch, Edie Middlestein, begins to eat herself to death.
Jonathan Franzen (author of Freedom) says: “The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages, but it wasn’t until its final pages that I fully appreciated the range of Attenberg’s sympathy and the artistry of her storytelling.”
From Attenberg's Q & A with Royal Young for Interview:
ROYAL YOUNG: How do you get to the point where you're too fat to live? What doesn't stop people?Visit Jami Attenberg's website and blog.
JAMI ATTENBERG: This book was an exploration of that; I was trying to figure it out. I smoked cigarettes for a really long time. Even though I knew cigarettes were terrible for me, I smoked a pack a day. It was like a logic that was off in my head. I did drugs for a long time, even though they were expensive and bad for me and made me miserable. The interesting thing about overeating or being obese is there's this physical manifestation of it.
YOUNG: Right. It's in plain sight.
ATTENBERG: You can't hide that.
YOUNG: I am in the process of quitting smoking, but smoked for 10 years, and drugs, totally. But I feel like with eating, it's different. Because there's more of a need for your family members to be involved in your habit on a regular basis.
ATTENBERG: Right. There's witnesses. Though in the book, she becomes a secret eater. But....[read on]
See Attenberg's list of six top books with overweight protagonists.