The author, Elizabeth Berg, and a friend were having lunch one day and observing all the women in the restaurant eating their salads. Elizabeth told her friend she was going to write a book someday with this title. And she did.
I read this book because the librarian told me to. She was talking about Elizabeth Berg and how much she liked her work and I confessed to never having read anything by her. She said the best way to get a taste of her was to read a short story collection. She then grabbed this audio version, put it in my hands, and said, “Listen to this and you will be hooked.” What can I say – the librarian was right – again.
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted is a series of thirteen essays/short stories that most females in our culture will identify with. And, it covers all ages, from teenagers to eighty-somethings. A lot of the essays are about food and body image. The first story is the title of the book. It’s about a Weight Watcher’s member who is just so disgusted with the whole diet thing that she decides she’s going to spend the rest of the day eating anything and everything she feels like.
I listened to that story while I was walking in the neighborhood and I could not help laughing out loud. If people were peeking out their windows, I’m sure they thought I was some loony woman. These stories are not stand-up comedy. They are stories about the everyday events in most women’s lives that, when told by Elizabeth Berg, are hilarious.
My favorite story is the first one (The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted). It’s matched with The Day I Ate Nothing I Remotely Wanted. I also liked How To Make An Apple Pie. In it, an 86-year-old woman is telling the little girl (now grown) who used to live next door how to make this pie. It’s in letter form and she rambles all over the place and tells a lot more than the recipe. It is so typical of how a person would relate the story of how to make a pie that it felt very personal.
Of course, it could have felt personal because the author was the narrator on this audiobook. I like it when authors read their own books, like when I listened to Toni Morrison read Mercy. The writer knows the inflection they heard in their head as they were writing the words. Good author-narrators can give it back to us that way.
I know some people don’t like short stories. If you are one of them, just give this audiobook a try. Just listen to one story (the first one) and see if you don’t agree with me that Elizabeth Berg is a gifted writer, short story or otherwise.
For more on Elizabeth Berg, visit her lovely website at: ElizabethBerg.
If you have read anything by Elizabeth Berg, what did you think? Do you have a book of hers you could recommend to me for my next read?