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Attack of the long-winded book review!

December 19, 2007 | Books,Guest blogger,Guest post,Journalism

schlosser_nation.jpgHello! My name is Théa, and I will be your guest blogger today. Becky did me the tremendous honor of asking me to guest post here at Deep Muck Big Rake, which prompted me to perform an awkward happy dance in our living room. I say “awkward” because my living room is presently full of empty boxes and piles of stuff waiting to be sorted and stored in those boxes.

My husband and I are the sort of fools who consent to move to a new apartment one week after Christmas.

Becky compiled a list of topics to get us guest bloggers thinking, and, while all of them were interesting and several of them downright intriguing, I opted to go with what I know: books. For you, I will review a book that has been out for several years and has already been made into a movie (that I haven’t seen). I give you a book you’ve heard about, discussed and possibly even read, one whose statistics are horrifying when taken out of context and even more horrifying when given in context, but whose statistics demand to be quoted, one way or the other.

I present to you, dear faithful readers of Deep Muck Big Rake, a review of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation.

When Fast Food Nation was first released, I was in my first year of college. Friends who had recently turned vegetarian lobbed passages from Schlosser at me in misguided attempts to scandalize me into quitting meat completely; several of my classes featured excerpts from Nation on the recommended reading list; in one nonfiction writing workshop, we examined the opening paragraph to chapter 6, “On the Range,” stripped it down to its bare bones and used Schlosser’s sentence structure and scene-building techniques to write opening paragraphs of our own.

Perhaps it was the sudden abundance of Fast Food Nation quotes at a point in my life when I was immersed in books of all shapes and persuasions that allowed me to think that I had, somehow, read the book in its entirety. Whatever my reasoning, five years passed before I caught on to the fact that I was boasting (as I often am) half-formed opinions based on half-earned knowledge. I finally picked up a copy of my own and dug in.

What I presumed to be a rant against the American diet turned out to be a study of the vast damage done by the fast food industry to nearly every aspect of American culture. From what I had read, I assumed that Schlosser’s book focused primarily on the effects of the fast food industry on the American diet, but I was startled to learn that Schlosser aims for a much higher mark: in illustrating not merely how fast food companies have changed our diet but also our lifestyle, Schlosser examines the roll of fast food in today’s car culture, marketing strategies, food production industries, corporations and attitude toward the rest of the world.

Schlosser is thorough in his research and approach, if not entirely unbiased. At points it became clear to me how the reader ought to feel about the information presented and certain people, when interviewed, were painted in shades that seem intended to sway the reader’s opinion. These brief moments where Schlosser’s opinions broke through made me slightly wary, but otherwise I couldn’t complain – the man puts up a solid argument and closes with a few chapters that sound (considering the context) downright optimistic.

If corporations can do this much damage in less than a century, Schlosser theorizes, surely we – the consumers, the ones with the true power – can go a long way in another, better direction, can’t we?

But of course, he says it better than I do. You really ought to hear it from him.

Posted by Thea @ 9:47 am  

3 Responses to “Attack of the long-winded book review!”

  1. Lisamm Says:

    Hi Thea, great job as a guest blogger! I’m putting this book on my TBR list right now. Like you, I have heard and read so many references to it that I assume I know everything about it. Well, that’s kinda silly, no?

  2. Todd Says:

    My family shares a fence with Mr. Schlosser. Sometimes we BBQ and I think about what he might be thinking about whilst smelling the searing flesh.

  3. A deadline! How delightful. « the little bird Says:

    […] 19, 2007 Today I have the pleasure of guest posting over at Deep Muck Big Rake, so if you’re looking for content, why don’t you mosey on over there? I might have […]

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