Book Giveaway & Author Interview: The Man Who Couldn’t Eat by Jon Reiner

Welcome to Author Jon Reiner


Jon Reiner is the author of the debut memoir The Man Who Couldn’t Eat, published by Simon and Schuster. The book is based on a story of the same title he wrote for Esquirewhich won the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award for Magazine Feature Writing, was nominated for a National Magazine Award, and was translated into multiple languages for international publication.
After earning a B.A., magna cum laude, in English and theater at Fairleigh Dickinson University and an M.A. in English at the University of Maryland, where he was an instructor of writing and literature, he worked for two decades as a creative executive for international corporations and arts organizations. Jon lives in New York City with his wife and two children and is writing his next book, Chutes and Ladders, (read a post on a memoir of finding work and meaning in an age of unemployment.
He is still learning how to cook.


If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Casey Stengel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Burton, Abbie Hoffman, and Liza Minelli. Great stories, copious booze, loud singing, and maybe a fistfight. Liza would win.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
The French vanilla made at One Cow Ice Cream in Oxford, Maine. The flavor is the best I’ve ever tasted, and two enormous scoops on a sugar cone cost $1.99.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
My paternal grandfather, Jacob Reiner, who died 20 years before I was born. He immigrated from a speck-on-the-map in Galicia with no family in the U.S., no money, no education, no language skills, and by first walking across Europe to a steamer in Hamburg. He was a teenager and had the nerve to get himself halfway around the world. People like Jake had a courage that was astounding.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have said a toasted bialy with creme cheese and lox. But I’ve incorporated macrobiotics into my diet, so now I look forward to a breakfast of brown rice, chopped walnuts, and berries. Reading this back I see that I’ve clearly lost my mind.

One food you would never eat?
Mushrooms. I hate them. I’ve tried them, and they have the texture I imagine larvae to have.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
It’s very good. Like St. Augustine, I selected the sins in the story to heighten the drama of my reform. Sorry, that’s two sentences.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’ve been writing a next book titled “Chutes and Ladders.” It’s about my experience of corporate layoffs and longterm unemployment and how that personal history is representative of the employment crisis in this country and the impact on tens of millions of people. I started writing it years before Occupy Wall Street materialized, but I’m happy to see the issue finally receive attention.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
My father is a storyteller, and I inherited the gene. I grew up with my father telling us wild Baron Munchaesen stories around the fire in Maine, and I’ve never forgotten them. I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Seeing the book in print with an elegant cover on it. I’ve written for my entire adult life, mostly fiction and drama, and struggled to get published. As my editor told me, “You almost had to die to get published.” Did “suffering for my art” have to be so literal? Publication by a major publisher was validation of a belief I had in myself.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. (See above.) Look at me — I’m a 25-year overnight sensation.

What is your favorite Quote?
“Chalk flew up!” — John McEnroe to a Wimbledon umpire. In my circle of friends’ verbal shorthand, it’s become the all-purpose and ultimate expression of indignation.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
Center fielder for the New York Yankees. I swear to God, give me a couple of weeks in a batting cage, and I still believe I can crack the roster.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
I once showed a producer a screenplay for a short film titled, “Coffee, Orange Juice, and Beer” about House Speaker Tip O’Neill and his roommate living in an apartment on Capitol Hill. The producer had no sense of the absurd.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
Scott Fitzgerald’s inscription on The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s lyricism is a bolt from the gods that trumps any imperfections in the story. Its last page is the greatest in American literature. Many writers have a spiritual connection to the prose. Hunter Thompson typed out pages of the book in order to motivate his own writing. Ironically, it was only when I freed myself of the ambition of writing like Fitzgerald that my writing emerged with its own voice. It only took me 20 years.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
I’m a stay-at-home dad, so my schedule is dictated by the needs of a 12-year-old boy, an 8-year-old boy, and an ageless wife. I wake up at 6:00 a.m., shower, dress, eat breakfast, make the boys’ breakfast, wake them up at 7:15, serve them breakfast, get us dressed and out the door at 8:15. I write from 9:00 – 2:30. Pick-up the kids from school, chaperone them on afterschool activities, get them home, help to start homework and make dinner, make school lunches for the next day, eat dinner, get the boys to bed, talk to my wife, catch-up on email, read, sleep. Believe it or not, itt’s actually more glamorous than it sounds.

The Man Who Couldn’t Eat by Jon Reiner:

Imagine a life without food. Not being able to eat or drink a single thing. No hot dog at the ballpark; no ice cold drink on a hot summer day; no birthday cake; nothing.
For three months, James Beard Foundation Award-winning writer, Jon Reiner went without food and drink and chronicled his struggle in, The Man Who Couldn’t Eat (September 2011). We’re helping Jon prepare a blog tour for October and November and would like to invite you to be part of it.
Based on Reiner’s acclaimed Esquire magazine article by the same name, Reiner writes in his book about his obsession with food and what happened when he was denied the taste of it. He’d just returned home with the week’s groceries- one of the tasks he enjoyed as a stay-at-home dad- when a near-fatal complication from his chronic battle with Chron’s disease left him writhing in pain on the floor. After emergency surgery, Reiner was “sentenced” to receive his nourishment intravenously.
Already struggling with his relationship with his wife and children as a result of coping with his chronic illness, he was also unemployed and facing financial ruin. It was this food deprivation that forced Reiner to reevaluate everything. A beautifully written chronicle of one man’s journey from plenty to deprivation and back again, The Man Who Couldn’t Eat will change the way you think about more than just your next meal.

Giveaway Details:
1 copy of The Man Who Couldn’t Eat
Open to US only
Ends 11/5/11

Optional Extra Entries:
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