The Man Who Couldn't Eat

The Man Who Couldn't Eat - Jon Reiner As a self-professed “foodie” struggling with managing what, and how much, goes into my mouth the title alone made this book irresistible. Not being able to eat is a concept that I find incomprehensible. Mr. Reiner’s narrative made me understand, with gritty clarity, what it must be like not to be allowed to eat.

We meet Mr. Reiner as he is writhing on the floor of his NYC apartment suffering from a serious complication to his Crohn’s disease. Delirious with pain he slips in and out of consciousness. While he is blissfully passed out his mind takes the reader along on a trip down his personal “food memory lane”. As for many of us food was not just a substance to keep us nourished and alive but also a memory of both good and bad times, celebrations and family traditions. Let’s face it, is there one monumental event in life that is not celebrated, in some way, with food? Hours later, when he awakens in the hospital we take another journey with him … the journey of being NPO (allowed nothing by mouth).

Mr. Reiner spares the reader the necessity of having an accompanying medical dictionary, giving only enough details to make his condition understandable. However, the same sparing of details does not apply to his description of what it is like to receive all nutrition intravenously for the better part of a year. Food, or lack thereof, impacts every area of his life from his marriage, his children, his friends and neighbors all the way through to his own self worth. Mr. Reiner writes as if he is talking to you alone and that makes his memoir seem more personal and more harrowing at the same time. Not the kind of book I would usually pick up but very glad I did.