February 1, 2009
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg
Fiction - Short Stories
2008 Random House
Finished on 1/26/09
Rating 3.5/5 (Good)
Exhilarating short stories of women breaking free from convention.
Every now and then, right in the middle of an ordinary day, a woman rebels, kicks up her heels, and commits a small act of liberation.
What would you do, if you were going to break out and away? Go AWOL from Weight Watchers and spend an entire day eating every single thing you want–and then some? Start a dating service for people over fifty to reclaim the razzle-dazzle in your life–or your marriage? Seek comfort in the face of aging, look for love in the midst of loss, find friendship in the most surprising of places?
Imagine that the people in these wonderful stories–who do all of these things and more–are asking you: What would you do, if nobody was looking?
I recently learned that Elizabeth Berg has just completed another novel, due out on April 28th. It's entitled Home Safe and the early product details sound intriguing! In spite of a few lackluster novels in the past couple of years, I still get excited when I learn about a new book by Berg. I've been reading her novels for over a decade and I believe this new release will be her 20th!
I spotted her current collection of short stories (The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation) at the library last month and decided to give it a try, hoping to find a gem or two in the collection. Well, I'm happy to say it was better than her last few novels. I'm not usually a big fan of short stories, but Berg has such a way of describing the most basic domestic scenes, full of details and images that help transport the reader into the lives of her characters.
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted is very much a brain candy read that melts away after the final sentence is read. My favorites are "Mrs. Ethel Menafee and Mrs. Birdie Stoltz" (a story about two elderly best friends dealing with a fatal disease), "How To Make An Apple Pie" (a marvelous birthday letter with a rambling description of -- you guessed it -- how to make a perfect apple pie), and "Sin City" (about a sixty-seven-year-old widow who decides to bust out of her rut and start spending her children's inheritance). All the stories are entertaining, but I'd be hard-pressed to describe a single one in the lot in great detail! I really need to take notes the next time I pick up a short story collection. I always feel that they should be read one at a time, perhaps between a novel or two, so that the story can remain independent of all the others in the collection. Of course, I never allow enough time to read them in this fashion (especially if it happens to be a library book!), as I'm always chomping at the bit to finish one book and move on to the next. Not that I don't savor what I'm reading, but I don't do well with reading one book over the course of several months.
In any event, this was quite a worthwhile read; one which is tempting me to go back and re-read those three favorite stories. And once I've finished with those, I can continue to read Elizabeth Berg's entertaining blog while I wait for April 28th to roll around. That is, unless I happen to luck out and get an ARC!