Monday, February 24, 2014

Eating Animals Book Review

Eating Animals is very well-written and well-researched. The writing style is beautiful; the personal story of Foer is engaging and powerful. Foer writes non-fiction in a way that is easy to understand and is accessible to just about anyone. The visual aids, statistics, and multi-layered perspectives gave an intellectual and insightful richness to the overall story.

This book is informative and compelling. I would recommend it to everyone I know as it is both a beautiful story of personal journey and a book with information that every person should face head-on.

Foer does not sugar coat anything, but he also doesn't make anything totally black and white, wrong/right, either. Having read this book after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, I was delighted to find a narrator who did not shy away from sharing his personal beliefs and decisions following his intense research.

My personal response to the Eating Animals:

After curiously stumbling upon the audiobook of Omnivore's Dilemma and loving the information while being disappointed by the lack of resolve, I decided to read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

This book changed my life.

Over the past few years I have moved loser and closer to eating like a vegetarian. I have also had a goal of one day becoming vegan. After reading Eating Animals I could not stay where I was any longer. I hd to do something, and I had to do it NOW.

Starting January 1, 2014 I decided I would be completely vegan. No exceptions (though, I still eat honey, use beeswax, and of course, wear my leather boots and gloves to work). So far I am happy to say that it is going great. I feel good. I feel strong. I feel happy.

I'm happy not only with my physical body, but I'm happy knowing that I stand for something. That my actions and choices with what I buy and eat are making (albeit small) a difference.

At the beginning of his book, Foer writes about his grandmother who was starving during WWII. How a wonderful farmer offered her some pork to eat--all he could spare, I guess. She refused it. She was literally starving and she refused to eat this pork. Why? Because it wasn't kosher. In telling this story to her grandson she said to his question of "even if it could save your life?" "If nothing matters, there's nothing to save."

I have never really loved the idea of being willing to die for a cause or conviction, but I have to admit that kind of devotion is powerful. And I'm getting to the point where I feel like if nothing is important to me then what is the point?

Being vegan is important to me because my body matters. I want my body to have the best food available and I believe that the best is vegetables, fruit, nuts--plant-based food. It is important to me because I cannot agree with the way animals are treated in factory farming or even in  the most "humane" of animal farming. And, it is important because I do not agree with the way big businesses like the animal-production industries handle their products--steroids, adding water to bulk up the weight, antibiotics, etc, etc. Also, I cannot be part of a culture that disregards the earth entirely for the sake of taste and convenience and tradition.

The environmental impact of meat-production is heartbreaking and terrifying.

Some people like to ask the stupidest question of all when they find out I'm vegan: How do you get your protein?

Because I know that is an almost legitimate question because of the poor education of Americans (myself included), I will answer it when I review my current read, Thrive by Brendan Brazier. But for now, I have to ask you, particularly meat-eaters, where do you get your protein? Is it from a chicken that was kept in a cage only as big as my pad of paper, ridden with disease, pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones, and killed after only 4 months of life then dunked into a vat of water and chicken shit to soak up as much weight as possible before being packaged, refrigerated and shipped across the country to your grocery store?

Where do you get your protein?

If you eat meat then you use read Eating Animals. I say it is a must, not because I want it to discourage you from eating meat, but to empower you with the knowledge of where your food really comes from.

Write on!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Finding Literary Agents

It has officially been a month since I submitted my first completed novel to my very first literary agent.
I feel anxious, of course, because I've not yet had a response. I have never been very excited about this part of the process. Writing is hard enough, but sending my beautiful words out into the unknown space of the internet to be judged on quality and sell-ability is the hardest thing.

I have been researching literary agents over this past month here and there, hoping that I won't have to submit to any of the new people I've found. But, it's time now to get more serious about finding someone I'd like to submit to next.

Trying to find an agent on the internet is like online dating. You find certain websites that have literary agents and you scroll through looking at their pictures and reading their profiles. But you never really get a glimpse of who they are in real life. You don't get to see how they carry themselves, how they speak, how they dress, what mannerisms they have. You don't get any idea of how they might represent you or your book to the rest of the publishing world, and that's a very difficult thing for me.

I know that online dating works for some people, but I am not a fan of it. The agent I first submitted to was someone who I had met personally at a writing workshop. Someone who I was able to listen to give a presentation, and who I had the chance to speak with. I could ask questions. I could watch how he walked, how he used his hands as he spoke, and I could see the excitement in his eyes when he mentioned books he'd represented and authors he'd worked with. I could see the confidence he had for himself and for his clients.

If I were to come across this agent online, I would not have been so charmed. On the literary agency website all that is listed under his name other than the specific guidelines for submitting queries are three very short sections: "Currently looking for," "Currently not looking for," "Adult books," and "Books that I love."

I will trudge on in my search, but I must leave one piece of advice. If you have the opportunity to attend a conference or a workshop where you will have the chance to meet editors and literary agents in person--do it! You will not only have a better chance of them looking at your work, but you will also have a better idea of whether or not they will fit you as a writer.

Write on!