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Jon Reiner couldn’t fathom a life without food, until one measly dried apricot caused him to collapse on his kitchen floor, buckled over in pain from a ruptured intestine. Despite a history of Crohn’s disease, Reiner—a self-described “glutton in a greyhound’s body”—didn’t deprive himself until, at 46, he was hooked up to an intravenous drip with an infected abdomen and no choice but to follow his doctor’s orders: don’t eat.
Most of what follows chronicles Reiner’s graphic physical suffering and the toll it took on his wife and kids. “At mealtime, for instance, I unpack bladders of laboratory-made nutrients that substitute for food and fill syringes,” he writes, while his wife cooks hamburgers and fries and his son asks anxiously, “When will you eat?” Months pass; Reiner loses his taste buds; the hunger lingers, inspiring an adroitly rendered meditation on desire (“I crave food more than sex,” “I must lick this french fry”), deprivation, and our complicated relationship with food. Driven by the will to survive and support from his family, Reiner emerges from his life-and-death crisis with a new outlook on food and renewed appreciation for things that matter most.
"An adroitly rendered meditation on desire, deprivation, and our complicated relationship with food."