Wednesday, May 15, 2013

fast food corrections

fast food nation by eric schlosser // the corrections by jonathan franzen
My book hangover has been cured! I recently finished both of these and thought they were excellent. Both completely different genres and styles, but kept my attention from the first page to the last.

Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation studied the positive and negative aspects of the American fast food meal. He featured all kinds of fast food places- McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, In-N-Out, Little Caesar's etc. What I enjoyed about this book was Schlosser's look at both sides of fast food- the good and bad. Here's the thing. I love fast food. I love McDonald's and In-N-Out is legitimately one of my favorite places to eat. Some nasty stories about undercooked meat in Colorado is not going to deter me from a $2.50 cheeseburger. Sorry. But, it was fascinating to learn about the origins of fast food and how they started as little food stands in southern California and can now be found in every corner of the world. What truly amazes me about the fast food industry is the universalization of it. A McDonald's Happy Meal varies very little whether it is bought in North Dakota or New Delhi. My favorite facts I learned were about none other than the delicious In-N-Out Burger. Did you know In-N-Out pays the highest wages in the fast food industry, managers stay with the chain an average of 13 years and full-time employees receive benefits packages including medical, dental, vision and life insurance? You would think these details would produce lower-quality food, but there are no freezers, heat lamps or microwaves in any In-N-Out restaurants. I always thought Californians/West Coasters were snobs when they talked about how much better In-N-Out was than any other burger, but I have to agree. This book is humorous, informative and entertaining- three rare qualities of nonfiction work.
Preston bought The Corrections from a used book website and in the front cover there was a lengthy handwritten note from the previous owner begging future readers to choose another book. It reminded me of the first chapter in every Lemony Snicket book. The previous owner went on and on about how depressing it was and the Lambert family was so negative and ungrateful and blah blah blah. I can't lie; the previous owner was absolutely right. This book was very depressing and frustrating and by the end, you hate every character. Like I previously mentioned, The Corrections was voted #1 on GQ's 21 Books From the 21st Century list, which was the main reason I chose to read it. Jonathan Franzen is an exceptional writer. He writes from the viewpoint of each family member and his combination of character banter and thought processes are too good and almost make up for the fact that his characters represent the worst of society. This book was smart, witty, funny, disturbing and probably accurately portrays a common American family dynamic. I predict this will be made into a movie starring Hollywood's finest and probably Meryl Streep as Enid Lambert.

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