Eat When You Feel Sad

18 03 2010

Just finished reading Eat When You Feel Sad by Zachary German. I liked it. It is a selection of scenes from the life of a young guy initially living at home with his parents, and then, for the bulk of the novel, living in Brooklyn. The author made a conscious decision to present all actions, words, and thoughts in stripped-down, simple declarative sentences. The effect is to strip away everything usually present in literature that does not relate to concrete reality and the experience of being inside a consciousness. For this reader, there is a tremendous feeling of honesty and familiarity as a result of this technique. This is what it is like to go through one’s daily routine. This is what it is like to be alone and to wish you were not alone and happier and okay. These are the kinds of random thoughts that often pass through one’s mind. This is what I often do, sleep and eat and go places and eat and talk and think and sleep. By radically deglamorizing, de-sentimentalizing, detaching life from abstractions (except in the case of thoughts, which are often abstract but rarely fluent as-they-speak-in-your-head, as is captured in the book), Zachary manages to evoke the palpable emotions of a young man’s life—trying his best, feeling sad, feeling okay, trying and sometimes failing to relate to others, but always trying, seemingly, to not be a ‘bad’ person and to find someone in whose arms he will feel ‘right.’

A sampling:

Tom says “You should chew your food more.” Robert chews falafel. He swallows falafel.

Robert says “Yeah. Yeah I don’t chew enough. People that are into macrobiotics are all about chewing. I would suck at macrobiotics.”

Tom says “Yeah you would.”

A waitress walks to Robert and Tom’s table. She says “How is everything?”

Tom says “It’s great.” Robert chews. The waitress leaves. Tom drinks mint iced tea. Robert drinks mint iced tea. Tom says “I love mint iced tea.” Robert thinks “I should do sit-ups. Every day. Fifty sit-ups. When I wake up. And before bed.” Tom drinks mint iced tea. Robert looks at the waitress. The waitress is wearing a skirt. Robert looks at Tom.

Robert says “I’ve been really tired lately.”

—Zachary German, Eat When You Feel Sad, Melville House Publishing

Zachary’s website here. Another, more extensive review here at the Rumpus, by James Yeh.

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One response

6 04 2010
Eat When You Feel Sad « Pop Serial

[…] Bookslut has published a positive review of Zachary German’s Eat When You Feel Sad. My review is here. […]

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