Monday, December 12, 2011

Good Read: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbera Kingsolver

Hi everyone, I'm back! My computer has been on the fritz and I couldn't access any of my images. Looking into getting an external hard drive after the holidays, but Zach has my computer in working order temporarily.

I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. And to be honest, I had mixed feelings. Don't get me wrong, I totally recommend the book, I feel that there is a ton of valuable knowledge and she presents a great argument in favor of the local food movement. She also has some really beautiful moments, in particular at the ends of chapters where her language really comes alive and is almost poetic. 

But as I read, I always felt as though there was this underlying tone towards the audience. Just a bit condescending, as though she was harboring an inside joke between the book and herself and the reader was expected to just smile and take her word for it. I feel as though she needs to consider her targeted audience a bit more. People who read this piece are probably like you and I, interested in how to eat more sustainably and local, and are turning to her to find out how she did this. I feel as though she gets a bit hung up on the uniqueness of her situation and assumes that the reader will be just as fascinated. It's very slight, but still, I felt it throughout. Not enough to not read the book again, or not recommend it to others, just more of an annoyance than anything else. This is the second book I've read by Barbara Kingsolver, the first was Prodigal Summer, which I loved, but I found her "year of food-life" narrative a different experience.

I feel as though she also sneaks in some off-topic digs, summarizing the opposing arguments in short, generalized sweeps. (granted that is exactly what I'm doing here, by writing this post and giving no citation or examples to back my thoughts, but then again, this is a blog post not a published work, maybe that's an excuse, maybe it isn't?) She also assumes that her reader shares her opinion in these off topic jaunts. As I read the book, I felt that Mrs. Kingsolver thinks that a person who wants to eat locally is a certain "type" of person, and that eating locally automatically signs you up for certain social, cultural, political and even religious (at times) understandings. But without spoiling it for those of you who haven't read it, give it a go, and let me know what you think. I'm sure many of you have already read it, what did you think?


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the book as well, but thought I was sort of imagining the tone when I read it and was just taking things the wrong way. I've been accused of being a bit oversensitive at times! But overall I've learned to take what means something to me from what I read and just ignore the rest and this book has enough good to make it worthwhile. I've recommended it to others (and it was recommend to me by another friend). ~Melanie

Jennifer Sartell said...

Thanks so much for the comment! That is exactly how I felt. It's a good book, and as you said, a worthwhile read. I too have been known to be oversensitive at times and truth be told, I almost took down the "tone" bits before posting, and only highlight the good things she had to say. But I felt that if I was going to recommend the book, I should be honest with how I perceived it. I feel that it's subtle, but none the less...there. Thanks so much!

Lipservice said...

Hi Jennifer - I read this book for a book discussion group, and the sense of the group was that Kingsolver's smug tone hurt the book a little bit. We all read it and learned from it, but Kingsolver needs to learn to respect her readers a little more, herself a little less. There isn't anybody out there who doesn't have something worthwhile to add to the conversation.

Post a Comment

Post a Comment