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My Year of Meats

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My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki is the story of Jane Takagi-Little, a documentarian who ends up directing/producing a tv show called 'American Wives' (a reality show focusing on 'wholesome' American wives and the major role of meat cookery in their lives; 'Meat is the Message!') which is sponsored/bankrolled by 'Beef-Ex', an American beef industry lobbyist group, filmed in the the U.S. for broadcast in Japan, and the literally life altering effect this show has on the wife of the Japanese businessman who is in charge of the Japanese branch of Beef-Ex.

I really liked this novel, in spite of it's flaws. It is rather heavy handed and one sided in it's negative portrayal of the meat industry. Having worked in that business for 20 years I can tell you some of its assertions and depictions are incorrect. And there is not the depth of character development in the secondary and tertiary characters I would have liked. As someone pointed out on the thread for another of Ozeki's novels, these people are basically ideas.

But they are very well done ideas! Surprisingly real characters for being rather two dimensional. And the two main characters, Jane Takagi and Akiko Ueno are well fleshed out. The story weaves between occasionally hilarious satire, horrendous accounts of 'scientific' engineering of meat production through hormones, feed additives and antibiotics for shady profiteers, and the really touching and often terribly sad stories of Jane and Akiko. But the weaving is impeccable and I never felt like Ozeki couldn't decide what kind of book to write. A very sure and even-handed effort in the structure of this novel. Good pacing, dialogue, and use of language. Elegant, witty and often beautiful prose, which nevertheless flowed very well. This was a quick and easy read, and I raced effortlessly through its 361 pages. But there is real depth here! Subtle yet profound insights into culture and human nature. If not for the obvious and somewhat preachy bias against the meat business ( much of which I agreed with however) I'd give this 5stars. But aside from that it is still a great novel so I give it 4stars.

Edited by Dan

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I finished this last week and found it to be a very good novel but I do think there are the problems that a lot of the characterisation is done to the extreme (of course then again it is a satire so that might be why) and I think towards the end of the novel, it ran out of a little bit of steam.

 

overall I did like this, the narrative of Jane's was engrossing and a good read, I felt sorry for Akiko and the pluses outway the minuses in the book. I liked it

 

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