My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki

Astute readers may notice I read a lot lately. Plane travel does that, especially when you’re stuck in an airport for hours on end. My Year of Meats is a pretty good travel book, although that’s not meant as an indictment. It’s jsut a very easy read. And a bit of a feel-good. It’s in fact alarmingly metaleptic: playing on the contrast between authenticity and fiction is fine, but the two protagonists of the story both resemble different facets of Ozeki’s own character more than I like. As long as she doesn’t make a habit of having all her own characters resemble herself, I can live with the occasional self-insertion. ASnd it’s generally an interesting story for all that. There’s a fair bit of “Japan is really damn weird” as is inevitable when trying to explain anything about Japan to an American audience, but that’s inverted effectively by the fact that America is presented as, in its way, at least as weird as Japan, with Walmarts and overcrowded cattle pens and hormones and peculiar cultural values of farming and rural communities. The writing’s reasonably deft, and Ozeki seems to generally know what she’s about. So, yeah, it’s light fare, but not without, if I may be bold enough to say it, some meat on its bones.

Oh, one warning: My Year of Meats says a lot of unpleasant things about how animals are treated, and about the unhealthy stuff floating around in meat. It hasn’t made me vegetarian, but if you’re uncomfortable knowing too much about what you eat, you might want to skip it.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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