The Omnivore’s Dilemma

August 8, 2010

Wow, it seems like a lot of people didn’t notice that this kinda sucked! Weird. It read to me like he wrote The Botany of Desire, decided that that framework- a loose structure in which he can just talk alternately interesting and totally self-serving shit for a whole book- and figured he’d give it another go, but this time as his MAGNUM OPUS. And I was pretty into it, for the most part, but in a lot of the parts where he thinks he’s being super even-handed, he’s actually often being a boring middle-aged white liberal dude with boring tenured college professor politics. I mean, have you read the part in this book where he decides that animals shouldn’t be killed, declares himself a vegetarian, gets stressed out, decides that being a vegetarian is stepping on your friends’ toes, then says a bunch of total fucking nothing for twenty minutes (I listened to the audiobook- which, by the way, makes this book sound super preachy even if it isn’t, because of the narrator’s tone of voice) and decides that vegetarianism isn’t a viable way of life? Even though, I don’t know, something like a million billion people have been living that way for pretty much forever? Just admit it, Mike: you like eating meat, don’t want to make the effort to stop, convinced Peter Singer to concede that, sure, if you’re going to eat meat, it’s better to eat meat that’s been ethically raised and slaughtered (aduh), and decided that that settles it: Pete Singer said you don’t have to be a vegetarian, so let’s just-

OH MAN after the vegetarian part- we are about three quarters of the way in at this point- Mike decides that he’s going to be a hunter, so he writes two hours (it is a trip for me to listen to a book because I do it so rarely, but I am driving across the country and it is a wide country) of the most florid, masturbatory prose I have ever had the privilege of consuming in any medium. ON and ON and ON and ON about the great natural dance, and how probably when you shoot an animal it releases THC (the active ingredient in marijuana; a cannabanoid, which is a science word!) into your brain, ’cause it sure feels like getting stoned. And the beauty of how time slows down when you look through a rifle sight, and how now he is better than people who hunt in their real lives. Thanks for that, Mike. Also thanks for your total lack of solutions for people who can’t afford or don’t have access to organically grown local fuckin cows that got to play dress-up whenever they wanted up until Temple Grandin killed them. Actually, thanks for your total lack of solutions to anything (besides ‘get your friend to clean the pig you shoot,’ SPOILER).

It’s just… The Botany of Desire was pretty fun! You do better when you tell me about Johnny Appleseed, Michael Pollan, than you do when you try to tell me how to eat. Also I know you did it first but Eating Animals does a better job of explaining about how animals are tortured in american corporate agriculture. The student has become the teacher! O-oh!

(this review is from my old goodreads account.)

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2 Responses to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

  1. jess s Says:

    I know this is old, but you read the audiobook of this so I have a question. Does he narrate the book? I own a copy of this (hardcover, even) but have never been able to get around to reading it (due to the issues you mention), but I could maybe get through the audiobook.

    After I finish every Haruki Murakami book for which there is an audiobook, i mean.


    • I didn’t think he read it himself, and I just hunted it down online and it looks like it’s read by somebody named Scott Brick? Which I don’t think is an anagram of Michael Pollan so it’s not him. But seriously yeah it’s pretty much only fun as low-grade outrage fuel.


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