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The Middlesteins, book of the month March 2013

The Middlesteins

Our March book club pick is Jami Attenberg's acclaimed novel about a woman who is literally eating herself to death. Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections, has said of this book: "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".  Jami answered your questions here.

They say that the family that eats together stays together. But nobody eats like Edie ...

For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together: two children, a nice house, good jobs, good friends. But now things are splintering apart, apparently for the simple reason that Edie can’t stop eating. She’s obsessed with food – thinking about it, eating it – and if she doesn’t stop, her doctors say she will die.

When Richard abandons his wife, the next generation feels obliged to take control. Robin, Edie's schoolteacher daughter, is determined that her father will pay for leaving Edie. Benny, the easy-going, pot-smoking family man, wants to smooth things over but his wife Rachelle – a whippet-thin perfectionist – is intent on saving her mother-in-law’s life.

Do Edie’s devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone, or are others at fault, too?

Jami AttenburgPitch-perfect, compassionate and slyly funny, The Middlesteins is an epic story of marriage, family, and obsession. Jami Attenberg explores the hopes and heartbreaks of new and old love, the yearnings of the middle class, and our devastating, fascinating preoccupation with food.

Jami Attenberg has written for The New York Times, Salon and other American newspapers, magazines and online publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where (it says here) she fights crime in her spare time. <Memo to self: ask her about this>

Other things you might like...       

Her debut collection of stories, Instant Love, was originally a zine series which she sold primarily on her website. She also wrote Wicked: The Musical: A Pop-up Compendium. She is the author of three novels, The Kept Man, The Melting Season and The Middlesteins. 

‘With a wit that never mocks and a tenderness that never gushes, she renders this family’s ordinary tragedies as something surprisingly affecting." Washington Post 

"A sharp-tongued, sweet-natured masterpiece of Jewish family life." Kirkus Reviews

"A marvel." Molly Ringwald

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