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Eve's Apple
     

Eve's Apple

5.0 1
by Jonathan Rosen
 

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Ruth Simon is beautiful, smart, talented, and always hungry. As a teenager, she starved herself almost to death, and though outwardly healed, inwardly she remains dangerously obsessed with food. For Joseph Zimmerman, Ruth's tormented relationship with eating is a source of deep distress and erotic fascination. Driven by his love for Ruth, and haunted by his own

Overview

Ruth Simon is beautiful, smart, talented, and always hungry. As a teenager, she starved herself almost to death, and though outwardly healed, inwardly she remains dangerously obsessed with food. For Joseph Zimmerman, Ruth's tormented relationship with eating is a source of deep distress and erotic fascination. Driven by his love for Ruth, and haunted by his own secrets, Joseph sets out to unravel the mystery of hunger and denial. This gripping debut novel is a powerful exploration of appetite, love, and desire.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Crisp and glittering...a thinking person's love story.” —The Wall Street Journal

“An absorbing, intelligent tale of love and the mysteriousness of the other.” —The New York Times

“An impressive debut. A highly original addition to the distinguished line of Jewish-American family romances.” —The New Yorker

“A seductive and satisfying novel that doesn't let you go.” —Newsday

“The work of a natural master...This is a tale about a hunger artist---i.e., about appetite and its suppression, about knowledge and self-knowledge, and--above all--about the riddle of human character.” —Cynthia Ozick

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a psychologically sophisticated, almost delicate, debut, Rosen manages to portray the physical realities of eating disorders and to tie them to a host of metaphysical and moral questions about human appetite and desire. The narrator is Joseph, whose curiosity is piqued when his girlfriend Ruth's kiss tastes sickly and peculiar, leading him to suspect that her past food neurosis might be resurfacing. He begins discreetly to watch her every move, to pry in her diary for clues and to ransack the New York Public Library for everything written on anorexia and bulimia. His binge reading uncovers a psychological labyrinth of case histories and spurs his obsession with Ruth's food struggles. Rosen sheds much light on fascinating topics such as the history of fasting saints, the complex cultural and familial factors associated with eating disorders and the many philosophical questions raised by self-starvation. However, the narrative pulls only weakly, one of the main problems being that, despite some color and humor in Joseph's experience teaching English as a second language to Russian immigrants, neither he nor Ruth comes fully alive in a world wider than the one defined by their relationship. Although their concern forand knowledge ofeach other is evident, they lead rather mundane, sheltered lives. Nonetheless, Rosen's descriptions are careful and astute. His writing gathers steam, and he skillfully grafts the more bookish information onto the plot as Ruth and Joseph's fixations take them deeper into themselves. (May)
School Library Journal
YAJoseph, a young man adrift in New York City, is anchored only by his love for the beautiful, enigmatic Ruth Simon. As a teenager, she almost starved herself to death and the simple act of eating still torments her. Joseph decides to save his bulimic girlfriend as he attempts to unravel the mystery of hunger and denial during hours of research in the reading room of the public library. In the process, he finds himself more and more obsessed with her illness. This poignant, sometimes funny first novel offers a meditation on hunger and longing: for food, for knowledge, and for love. By choosing Joseph as the protagonist of the novel, Rosen softens a dark subject by showing the couple's tender and unforgettable struggle. Readers also meet the brilliant Dr. Flek, a former psychoanalyst, who believes that the rise of civilization is based on its ability to tame food; Ruth's eccentric mother; and an array of delightful Russian immigrants and coworkers in the English language school where Joseph teaches. Thoughtful, mature young adults will enjoy this tale of the foibles of an enabler who learns the dangers of helping too much and finally triumphs by realizing the errors of his ways.Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
An elegantly written debut offers an erudite analysis of eating disorders in a less-than-persuasive fictional structure.

With a self-absorbed heroine, and a hero only slightly more sympathetic to the reader, the love story here, intended to explicate the psycho-medical theme, never catches fire. The real heart of the novel is essentially a long and often intellectually provocative essay on the varieties of hunger—for love, fame, acceptance, and the manner in which young women, especially, respond to them. Joseph and Ruth first meet in college; after graduating, they move into an apartment in New York. Joseph teaches English to Russian immigrants; Ruth, whose father pays her rent and Visa bills, wants to be an artist. She's also obsessed with her weight and has been hospitalized for anorexia. As the story opens, Joseph is beginning to suspect that Ruth is suffering a recurrence: She exercises compulsively, eats very little, and behaves erratically in restaurants. Ernest Flek, a psychologist and a friend of Ruth's divorced mother, gives the concerned Joseph a list of books to read. The list is not only eclectic—ranging from basic texts on anorexia to Kenneth Clark's study The Nude—but suggests the wider implications of eating disorders. As Joseph becomes more and more involved—he spends all of his free time researching the subject—Flek suggests that he must learn to deal with his own hungers and demons before he can help Ruth. Joseph resists, until Ruth leaves for France. As he struggles with his fears, migraines, and guilt, he eventually comes to understand that he was not responsible for his teenage sister's suicide, and that his obsessive need to monitor Ruth's illness has more to do with his own needs than hers. Ruth returns ill, but the two are ready to fight their problems together.

More research than romance, which is disappointing, because Rosen can write. It's the ideas, though, not the characters, that have life here.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312424367
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
08/04/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.72(d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Rosen is the author of The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey Between Worlds and Joy Comes in the Morning. He is the editorial director of Nextbook. He lives in New York City.

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Eve's Apple 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finally understood what my own eating disorder has been doing to the people i love.