Sam van Zweden



jonathan safran foer

Revisiting JSF’s meat book

I’m revisiting Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. I loved this book the first time around, and remember it for being a wonderfully personal take on the ethics of meat eating.

Next week, I’m doing a panel at The Wheeler Centre called ‘Green Cleaver‘ – I’ll be talking with Sam Cooney, Richard Cornish and Tammi Jonas about the role of meat in our lives and how we can do it better.

This, I suppose, in the wake of having written about why we struggle to embrace offal; and why the stories we tell about food are important.

I’m still working – always, forever – on the larger manuscript about food’s significance in our lives. In my research for that project, I hadn’t thought to revisit Jonathan Safran Foer’s book – it’s about food, but I didn’t remember it being relevant to what I’m writing.

Until now. In preparation for the panel event on Tuesday, I’m dipping back into JSF. This paragraph encapsulates so much of what I’m trying to do in my work, it’s hard to believe I’d forgotten it:

Perhaps [my grandmother’s] other stories were too difficult to tell. Or perhaps she chose her story for herself, wanting to be identified by her providing rather than her surviving. Or perhaps her surviving is contained within her providing: the story of her relationship to food holds all of the other stories that could be told about her. Food, for her, is not food. It is terror, dignity, gratitude, vengeance, joyfulness, humiliation, religion, history, and, of course, love. As if the fruits she always offered us were picked from the destroyed branches of our family tree.

It’s succinct, and hard-hitting, and I’m finding it so energising. Deeply sad, very important, and energising.

A Wheely Exciting Program!

Yeah, that pun again. That old chestnut. Oh, but it is! The Wheeler Centre’s September-November program came out today, and it’s HUGE. I’m just going to go through what’s on in the next month, because that’s quite enough excitement for one day. And the start of October, because if you snooze you’ll loose on these tickets.

The big one, the one I’m almost TOO excited about, is that Jonathan Safran Foer is coming to town. (Right, now go and get a towel to wipe up the saliva that you just dripped on the keyboard.
He’ll be here on the 2nd of October, and I’m up to petition for a bit group hug, if anyone’s interested, I’m pretty sure JSF will be down for that.

But it doesn’t stop there.  On the 15th of September, the folks from Meanjin will be arguing about what the “Great Australian Novel” is, this time with a special focus on books by women.

On the 29th of September the Lunchbox Soapbox is given over to the enigmatic EZB, who will be speaking in defence of slam poetry.

On the 30th of September, a HUGE bunch of awesome people (including Marieke Hardy, need I say more) share their teen-angst diaries in “No One Understands Me“.

What’s also great is how many big red “BOOKED OUT” stickers there are on the events website already. Melbourne offers SO many great things to do, and people are excited about going to literary events, so much that they sell out. That in itself is Wheely exciting.

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