Review: Eating Heaven

Note: Book Giveaway is closed (April 17)

Eating Heaven is our fifth selection for the MMBC. We will begin discussing the book on Wednesday, June 24th. The author has generously donated 24 books. If you are interested in participating please send me an email with your address and ‘Eating Heaven’ in the subject line.
This book grabs you from the first chapter, letting you know this is a funny, heartfelt story about a woman trying to find her way through life. Eleanor is a food writer with food issues, mother issues, relationship issues… did I say food issues? You will laugh/cringe while reading the ice cream incident.

I couldn’t put it down and I love a book that let’s me shed a few tears (I can’t stop talking about it). I can’t wait for our discussion!

I found this review at BN.COM, is the perfect summary of the book: From the moment main character Eleanor gorges on ice cream behind a dumpster, I knew this book was going to be something different and more real than I'd read in a long time. I connected deeply with Eleanor, and cried and laughed with her all of the way through this beautiful story of a woman taking care of a dying father figure and trying to figure out her own problems, which include, of course, eating, a contentious relationship with her narcissistic mother, a career that leaves her soul feeling sucked dry, and men who can't see past her size. The author's writing is deceptively simple. It's only when you stop and re-read something that was stated so perfectly you can see-smell-touch-taste it that you realize how masterful she really is. The eating scenes will leave you breathless! I can't recommend it highly enough.
Type: Fiction, 270 pages, Trade paperback
Click here for the reader’s guide

Author Q&A
Tell us a little about yourself: I've been writing full-time since 1995, when I left a corporate job to begin freelancing for magazines and newspapers. I have no formal education in writing, but I've just always been a writer, always loved to write, and love it more all the time. Writing fiction was always my pie-in-the-sky dream, so I feel like a lucky, lucky person to get to do it all the time now.

Do you write daily? When I'm working on a book, which is 9.9/10 of the time, I write every weekday. I tend to write in the mornings until the creative juices run dry and do other work related tasks in the afternoons. I think it's important to write every day, for me at least. Only with the slow steady amassing of pages can you write a novel, except for those freaks of nature (and some of them are my friends) who can write a novel quickly.

What was it like getting your first novel published? My first novel had been around the block with many publishers, getting nice rejections over and over, and I was starting to wonder if anything would ever happen with it. I wondered if I should keep writing or take it as a sign from the universe that it wasn't meant to be. My husband and I had just moved to Portland from Denver, and I was driving in the wooded hills above Portland, sightseeing with a friend, when I got a call from my agent on my cell phone. Over static and intermittent drop-outs, I could tell she was really excited. I finally comprehended: my book had sold! I had to pull over and get out of the car and stand on one leg bent sideways with an arm poking up to get reception, but my agent was laughing and crying, and my friend was laughing and crying, and it was pretty much the best day of my life! My agent said, "It's okay, you can scream," so I did.

What do you think of the electronic book (kindles and such)? I think it's the natural progression of media technology, and that it's really scary for the book business. To me, they seem most appropriate for traveling, and for students with lots of text books, but I think the generation that is growing up on iPods and Gameboys and constant texting/tweeting will probably use them far more than most adults would now. I'd like to think that there will always be a place for the printed book, just as with other printed media. Paper is actually an amazing and cheap medium for transporting lots of text, and requires no electricity or battery power, and is easily recycled. And nothing will ever feel like a book in your hands, smell like a book when you first open it, and look so lovely on your shelves, there to remind you of an experience you've had, an emotional connection to another world.

What is one tip that you can share with aspiring writers? Write. I don't mean to sound trite, but it's often the thing beginning writers overlook because they're so worried about things like, should they write (yes), can they make a living writing (the odds are no), will they ever get published (impossible to know at this stage) etc. The first order of business is to write.

What are you reading now? A book I'm blurbing, but as soon as I'm finished with that I'm going to read Benny and Shrimp, a quirky middle-aged love story written by a Swedish author and being published in the U.S. by Penguin this spring. And then my friend Randy Sue Coburn's new book, A Better View of Paradise, coming out in June.

Lastly, share one or two of your all time favorite novels read, excluding classics: A Yellow Raft on Blue Water by Michael Dorris, the first book that ever made me want to try a particular writing technique, which was writing from different viewpoints. The same story is told by a grandmother, mother, and daughter. It's wonderful. And House of Spirits by Julia Alvarez, which introduced me to magical realism.

Synopsis:Nothing gets Eleanor Samuels's heart racing like a double scoop of mocha fudge chunk. Sure, the magazine writer may have some issues aside from food, but she isn't quite ready to face them. Then her beloved Uncle Benny falls ill, and what at first seems scary and daunting becomes a blessing in disguise. Because while she cooks and cares for him-and enjoys a delicious flirtation with a new chef in town-Eleanor begins to uncover some long-buried secrets about her emotionally frayed family and may finally get the chance to become the woman she's always wanted to be.

“exactly the kind of book that most love to read – rich, funny, sad, sensual, and hopeful. I devoured every single word…Jennie Shortridge’s books are a tonic to the heart.” – Barbara Samuel, author of Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas
“I love this book.” – Lisa Tucker, Author of Shout Down the Moon