Lady Cordelia #CBR5 Review #29: My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki

imagesI borrowed My Year of Meats from the library after being wait-listed for the newly published A Tale for the Time Being, and so really had no preconceptions about this book whatsoever.  The story is in two parts: in the US, Jane Takagi-Little is a documentary filmmaker who has been hired to make a series promoting the American meat industry to Japanese consumers; in Japan, Akiko Ueno faithfully watches the television series and makes the “meat of the week” dish for her abusive husband each week.  The lives of these two women change through their experience of making and watching the show, and slowly become entwined.

The story does delve into the current practices of meat farming, particularly beef.  I must confess that I was so caught up in the story of the two women, that I didn’t at first see where the story was heading, though looking back now, it seems easily apparent.  Potential readers should not be concerned that they will be bludgeoned by some kind of vegetarian agenda, but there is some seriously disturbing information here about modern farming that some people might prefer not to know.  As Jane Takagi-Little puts it:

I would like to think my “ignorance” less as a personal failing and more as a massive cultural trend, an example of doubling, of psychic numbing, that characterizes the end of the millennium.  If we can’t act on knowledge, then we can’t survive without ignorance.  So we cultivate the ignorance, go to great lengths to celebrate it, even…. We are paralysed by bad knowledge, from which the only escape is playing dumb.  Ignorance becomes empowering because it enables people to live. 

I thought this book was magical.  Beautifully written and tightly plotted, I was completely swept away.

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