Recounting her struggles around food growing up, Dawn Lerman, author of the New York Times Well Blog series, tells it like it was in her family. Pathos. Humor. Fear. She takes them all on in her new book, My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes. The introduction, titled “Always Hungry,” opens this way:
“As far back as I can remember, there was an invisible wall that separated me from my dad, a distance that I could never completely penetrate. His closest relationship was with the bathroom scale–his first stop every morning and his last stop every evening. It controlled his moods, our days, what we were going to eat, and basically ruled our family life.”
And when you learn that her give-or-take-350-pound dad was a brilliant copywriter from the “Mad Men” era of advertising at giant agencies, first in Chicago and then in New York—and both her parents traveled a lot—the scene is set. Her stories of loneliness and hunger for love intermingle with those of good friendships and lots of opportunities to feel successful. Though both her mother and father are absent for much of her life, she finds reasons for loving them anyway. And that’s the key to a good memoir—distance from the suffering and a new perspective on the painful truths in one’s life.
The writing is clear and conversational. And when you get to the recipes, many from her Jewish grandmas, you might find yourself, as I did, turning down a lot of those page corners and hear yourself thinking, “Oh, that sounds good!” or “I need to make this right now for breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert/snack.”
If you love cooking good food, if you had a rough childhood, if you like good writing and dramatic stories, these are all good reasons to read My Fat Dad (on Amazon in paperback or ebook).