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 The Rumpus Book Club:
Brian S: There was a lot of discussion in the group about the role addiction played in the book. Seemed like there was some strong disagreement among members because of that, especially since you were writing about a fat person. How did you decide on food as the addiction?Visit Jami Attenberg's website and blog.
Jami Attenberg: Well…so I have a few responses. One, being from the Midwest and of a certain community of people, it is just something that people struggle with, their weight. So it felt very true, and something I knew about.
Brian S: We have that problem in the Deep South, too.
Jami Attenberg: Two, I have my own food issues. Three, it could maybe have been something else—booze or drugs or whatever—but the fascinating thing about food is that if you have issues with it, you have to face it every single day. Like you can quit smoking, and never have to have a cigarette again to survive. But with food, it is a daily challenge. It is just very rich source material.
Megan: I thought it was sad but realistic that Edie’s life’s chapters were delineated by her weight at the time.
Candy: I think choosing food as the addiction allows...[read on]
See Attenberg's list of six top books with overweight protagonists.