My Year Of Meats, for The Book Club

 Good morning all,

 and welcome to the first installment of the bookish butch’s book club.

I came up with the idea of the Book Club,

 because two of the women who were in a club with me last year,

 moved to Toronto.

Since they were the founding members,

 the club fell through.

Instead of joining a local book club,

 to end up reading Nicolas Sparks or some such stuff,

 that I don’t want to read

I decided to host my own,


So without further ado…

I finished My Year Of Meats.

It is a good book,

 a challenge,

 not so much because it was difficult structurally,

 but because of the subject matter. 

My Year Of Meats,

 is the story of Jane Takagi-Little.

A documentary filmaker,

 who recently got a job with a Japanese  advertising firm.

Their objective is to sell American meat to Japanese households.

The way they intend to do this is,

 by showing the wholesomeness of meat.

The ad agency comes up with a plan,

make a television program titled

My American Wife.

Jane’s job,

 is to scout wholesome American families,

 and show through documentary and recipes,

just how healthy and All American meat is,


 the American empire is great,

 because it was built on and by, meat.

Promoting cultural stereotypes about the west and capitalism.

Jane needs a job,

 so she takes it,

 and we follow her journey and her discoveries.

The fact that Jane is half-American, half-Japanese,

 is essential to her understanding her crew,

who are from Japan,

 and the American wives and their families,

 who will become the subjects of the “documentaries”.

My Year Of Meats, is also in parallel,

 the story of Akiko Ueno,

the wife of the Japanese executive in charge of the program.

Akiko has been given the mandate by her husband,

 to watch and rate the television show,

also to cook the recipes.

Akiko is unhappily married and rudderless.

No life of her own, she is bulimic and miserable.

Her husband is crass and cruel and abusive.

The program brings her,

oddly enough,

to self-realisation.

Jane and Akiko are very different women,

 and yet,

 they both long for a place in the world,

 and someone or something to call their own.

I don’t want to give too much away but,

This book deals with spousal abuse,

 and the horrors of the meat industry.

The sick, criminally insane things,

 that people are willing to do,

 to make a buck.

Let me be clear,

I am a life long omnivore,

which means I eat meat,

 amongst other things.

For years I have avoided reading books like Food Inc and their like,

 because I knew that they would upset me,

 and make me question my ethics,

and give my conscience difficulty.

I am an animal lover,

and like most city dwellers,

know nothing or next to nothing,

about the raising of cattle, pigs and other animals,

 to be consumed as food.

I know that steak doesn’t magically appear wrapped in cellophane, but,

that is practically the extent of it.

          “Ignorance”. In this root sense, ignorance is an act of will,

           a choice that one makes over and over again, especially when information 

           overwhelms and knowledge has become synonymous with impotence.

                   My Year Of Meats- Ruth L Ozeki

I’ve never thought of myself as ignorant but,

I think this sentence sums up,

the fact that I am.

A very upsetting and disturbing book,

these are not light subjects.

Strangely enough it also made me laugh.

The parts that deal with cultural differences and cultural stereotypes,

the sheer idiocy of the documentary for advertising purposes,

the fact that we all have secrets,

 some big, some small.

Jane and Akiko are well drawn characters,

 you care about them.

The secondary characters are all well fleshed out.

Some I Will not soon forget.

What I take away from this book?

A well written, thought provoking, multi layered read.

It deals with the ugliness of the meat and advertising industry,

but, also with the ever changing notions of family,

 and how everyone needs a port in a storm.

Worth your time and the effort.

If you aren’t a vegetarian,

 you might become one after reading this book,

I know it shook me,

 to my omnivorous core.

There is a queer element to this book,

 but I don’t want to give it away.

This book should be read,

 especially by us complacent meat eaters.

It is not a work of non-fiction,

 which is probably why it had an even bigger impact on me,

strangely enough,

 novels tend to make things real for me,

 because it becomes about people.

I give it high marks.

I hope those of you who read it got something out of it.

Those who didn’t,

 I hope this post made you,

 at least consider it.

This concludes the first installment of the Book Club.

I used a stream of consciousness type of structure,

 I hope it wasn’t confusing,

 and that it served it’s purpose.

 The Book club,

 like the blog,

 and indeed life,

 are works in progress.

Later girls


*for end of November The Mere Future by Sarah Schulman.

By Bookish Butch

I am a bookish butch in my mid early fifties. I live in Montréal and always have. I used to run a small used bookstore. Reading keeps me sane. My latest jiggie is photography, book project in the works, living the dream


  1. I’m a vegan, so My Year of Meats just sort of helped cement the ideas I already had. I definitely thought this was an interesting book, though it is disturbing. Is the queer element you’re talking about the intersex element? I can’t really remember anything else… I think one of the main strengths in My Year of Meats is that Jane is such a compelling character that she holds the book together even with the soapbox issues it takes up. If Jane wasn’t so interesting, it would start looking like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle; a rant disguised as a novel. (Though I do kind of like The Jungle anyway.)

  2. The queer element is that Akiko sees in the lesbian vegetarian couple a real model family.
    She also discovers that what she wants is a child and not a husband.
    It leads her to question her own sexuality. We don’t know which way she will go.

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