About the Book:
A scathingly funny, wildly erotic, and fiercely imaginative story about food, sex, and god from the acclaimed author of The Pisces and So Sad Today.
Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.
Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.
Pairing superlative emotional insight with unabashed vivid fantasy, Broder tells a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways that we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts. Milk Fed is a tender and riotously funny meditation on love, certitude, and the question of what we are all being fed, from one of our major writers on the psyche—both sacred and profane.
OMG! What a book! And what a talent! Melissa Broder is fearless. I guarantee you will not read a funnier or more erotic book this year. Her book ‘The Pisces’ is one of my all-time favorites (and is being made into a movie!) and I could not wait to see what Ms. Broder would write next.
Rachel works at a talent agency in Los Angeles and is plagued by an eating disorder. She carefully controls and plans single every morsel of food and she obsesses over food and eating every waking minute. When and what she should eat literally consume her. (“Better to suffer now and have something to anticipate than to leave a big chunk of my day’s food in the rearview mirror. That was a worse kind of suffering.”) At the suggestion of her therapist, she breaks off all contact with her overbearing mother, who instilled in Rachel from an early age that thin is better.
Rachel develops a crush on Miriam, who comes from an Orthodox Jewish family. Miriam is the opposite of Rachel: she is “undeniably fat, irrefutably fat. She surpassed plump, eclipsed heavy. She was fat.” Miriam is every one of Rachel’s worst fears about her own body.
There are about a zillion incredibly awkward scenes in this book as well as brilliant prose and very sharp wit. I am not sure non-Jews will think this book is as funny as I did but think it is truly one of the most original books I have read in a long time.
I can’t even begin to describe the exquisite detail that Ms. Broder uses to describe food and Rachel’s eating experiences (“After we sang, we ate and drank. Mrs. Schwebel had cooked an incredible dinner: roast chicken with a crisp and buttery skin on the outside, juicy meat inside. The chicken had been filled with a salty stuffing—crunchy and full of celery. She served some kind of apple compote that tasted like it was its own apple pie. There were braised carrots with cinnamon, a terrine of sweet-and-sour meatballs with raisins in the sauce, and challah with margarine.”) Every word of this story was an absolute delight. Sad, funny, tragic and profane – this book covers all the emotions. Highly recommend this one.
(Thank you to the publisher for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.)