My Father’s Diet
Adrian Nathan West
In a broken-down Middle American town, the disintegration of a struggling family – its ambitions and emotions worn thin – is laid bare through the cold eyes of its only son. While studying at the local community college to finish his degree, he works what his divorced parents deem to be menial jobs and tries to stay out of their way, keeping his pitiless observations about their lives to himself. He says nothing about his semi-estranged father’s doomed attempts to find meaning in strip-mall spirituality. He says nothing about his mother’s willingness to subjugate herself to men he deems unworthy. He says nothing about the anonymity and emptiness to which their social classes and places of birth seem to have condemned everyone he knows, robbing them of even the vocabulary to express their grievances. He says nothing about his own pity, disgust, compassion, tenderness, and love – and when his father enters a bodybuilding competition, he swallows his scorn and agrees to help.
Instantly relatable, impeccably realized, and grimly hilarious, My Father’s Diet is equal parts Kierkegaard, This Side of Paradise, and Pumping Iron: an autopsy of antiquated notions of manhood, and the perfect, bite-sized novel for a world always keen to mistake narcissism for introspection.
'Imagine a precise, refined eye looking at all the grotesque realities of mall life in Middle America and you'll have a sense of My Father's Diet. It's as if the Joyce of Dubliners were looking at Akron.' Edmund White ---- 'My Father's Diet is a wry and blisteringly honest indictment of American grotesquery. It is also - miraculously - tender about the unwinnable game of masculinity in this country. I loved this book for its humour, its clarity, its wicked prose. Adrian Nathan West is a star.' Lauren Groff ---- 'My Father's Diet is a strange, funny, sad, and wonderful novel. With the precision of a translator who has very good taste, West captures the bizarre vividness of America better than anyone I've ever read.' Lauren Oyler ---- 'Adrian Nathan West, one of our best translators, is also one of our best novelists. He gives such solemn care to such mundane American pap and crap even while denying any redemptive power to the effort and it's that denial - sorrowful, but without anger, without delusion - that constitutes his brilliance. My Father's Diet is among the most ruthlessly true chronicles of the culture - of the patrimony - that we, all of us, have ruined.' Joshua Cohen ---- 'In My Father's Diet, Adrian Nathan West does what the giftless memoirists cannot: he alchemizes experience into art. Here is a rare book not only for sons and their fathers but for any reader who still cares about the reach of sentences well made.' William Giraldi ---- 'Very sardonic, insightful and surprisingly tender.' Alice Fisher, The Portobello Bookshop Edinburgh ---- 'Being mindful in America, West suggests, is not to invite wisdom, but to cultivate a boredom that turns even the nation's lunacy into something as rote as weather.' Jeremy Lybarger
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?