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A book report of the hungry years of philadelphia in 1967

Is it a diet book or a memoir?

  • You get the picture;
  • When I finished reading this book the other day, it was - ooh, let's see - all of two minutes before I'd raided my refrigerator and all of five before I'd devoured my spoils;
  • According to the cover blurb, The Hungry Years will 'change the way you look at food forever';
  • In what part of what century does the story take place?

Is it full of good news or bad? Will it leave readers feeling slim and happy or deep in a slough of despond with only a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for company?

  • According to the cover blurb, The Hungry Years will 'change the way you look at food forever';
  • This turning point was expectable, because the book starts with the murder of Pyle;
  • Rates do not include taxes IGV;
  • Worst of all was his furtive - and not so furtive - compulsive eating, which made him feel out of control, ashamed, enfeebled;
  • When I finished reading this book the other day, it was - ooh, let's see - all of two minutes before I'd raided my refrigerator and all of five before I'd devoured my spoils:

According to the cover blurb, The Hungry Years will 'change the way you look at food forever'. Rather clever, to use the word 'look'. In other words, while it may make you think about food, and the egregious effect its consumption can have on your body, your habits will probably remain stubbornly the same. Eating just for the sake of it will still occur.

Take me, for instance. When I finished reading this book the other day, it was - ooh, let's see - all of two minutes before I'd raided my refrigerator and all of five before I'd devoured my spoils: Still, this not really the point. As my adventures with Bounty bars only go to prove, it is hard to believe that there is a person alive - at least, not in the developed world - for whom this book would not be of abiding interest.

  • Someone, please make it stop;
  • How much time is covered?
  • In a particularly evocative chapter about the Dust Bowl in the West and Midwest that followed several years of drought, he describes the travail of trying to get through a simple meal;
  • I enjoyed reading this book, while it is a very good mixture of war events and the excellent description of the relationship between the main characters in the book;
  • More to the point, which of us hasn't stared at a fat person in the street or on the bus and wondered how and why they got to this stage, and hated and feared them even as we registered the despair, the utter hopelessness, in their eyes?

When it comes to an audience, Leith should be packing them in. You certainly do not need to be obese to enjoy his efforts on a good day, I'm a size 10, yet I read The Hungry Years with an urgency akin to that which the author used to feel every time he passed his toaster.

We're all in the same boat, more or less. Ever breakfasted on last night's chocolate and Tia Maria mousse?

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Ever eaten six Tunnock's tea cakes at a sitting? Ever tried the cabbage soup diet? You get the picture. More to the point, which of us hasn't stared at a fat person in the street or on the bus and wondered how and why they got to this stage, and hated and feared them even as we registered the despair, the utter hopelessness, in their eyes?

Leith's weight peaked on 20 January 2003, when the scales, carefully positioned for a 'best' result, registered 236lbs.

In other words, he was never the kind of rolypoly who could lose a sandwich in the folds of his stomach, or who had to be winched from an upstairs bedroom. Then again, he had all sorts of problems.

  1. She was the All American girl, who was living an... I've read all of the new fat lit.
  2. Watkins was an environmental writer for most of his impressive career, and his strength was always his humanity, his sensitivity to the human dilemmas buried within economic and ecological questions.
  3. Rather clever, to use the word 'look'.
  4. Still, this not really the point. Take me, for instance.
  5. She pursues Pyle for his... Lori was treated well...

His clothes looked terrible. His sex life was rubbish.

After taking a shower, he would creep about the bathroom, trying to put on his clothes before a stray female could catch sight of the brie-like swell of his belly. Worst of all was his furtive - and not so furtive - compulsive eating, which made him feel out of control, ashamed, enfeebled. Leith would consume vast quantities of food at a time, especially carbohydrates.

  1. Is it full of good news or bad?
  2. It was, sometimes, a bit difficult to read, with a lot of words I? Bidding ensued on her ten cows, 24 pigs and six horses, then her plow, hay binder and corn planter.
  3. His sex life was rubbish. Francis Townsend, a 66-year-old California doctor, campaigned so fervently for help for the aged that he became the godfather of the Social Security system.

He would always know when there was left-over fried rice in the house, and he would eat it - in its foil tray - for his breakfast. Sometimes he would eat anything. He once devoured, straight from the jar, a load of coffee creamer.

The Hungry Years by T. H. Watkins

Did he like it? Well, it was better than nothing. The Hungry Years details all this stuff beautifully. A sandwich falls down his throat like 'a billiard ball down a well'; a bunch of fries stand up in their box like 'a golden brown skyline'. This is the best section of the book. Then Leith meets Dr Atkins. At this point, you start to worry.

He embarks on the Dr Atkins diet, which involves, just in case you have been in Ulan Bator for several years, a drastic reduction in the amount of carbohydrates a person consumes.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

He loses weight and becomes a diet conspiracy theorist, his argument being that no one will tell the truth about carbs because they are all - governments, nutritionists and doctors alike - in hock to the carbohydrate industry, to the growers of wheat and the bakers of bread.

But the government isn't wary of Atkins because it's scared of what certain lobby groups will achieve if it advocates it; if that were so, it wouldn't tell us that we consume too much sugar the sugar lobby is also very powerful.

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No, the government doesn't push Atkins because, given how much fat its devotees consume, it would mean our hospitals would be more full than ever of people with arteries like old kettles. As for whether or not Atkins works, well, Leith undercuts his own argument on this point because, in the end, what 'cures' his weird eating is some therapy - it's all about his mother, you see, with whom he is very angry - and a kind girlfriend the early ones are so mean, always storming off during sex and emitting these great gales of sighs.

I am more sympathetic to Leith's other point, which is that modern life is set up to make us hungry, acquisitive, ardent in our desire for the new - that carbs are just the beginning in a world that turns on 'extrinsics'. Having also been quite keen on cocaine and booze and painkillers, and having once had a girlfriend who was a shopaholic - 'Why didn't you tell me not to buy it?

The man who had a bellyful of eating

Then again, in another sense, all this theorising, his uneasy interviewing of 'experts', is a red herring. It is Leith's addiction to bad food, and his analysis of the hurt this addiction has caused him and countless millions - his funny, sad, clinical willingness to detail the everyday humiliations of bulk - that really gives his book its strange resonance.

I've read all of the new fat lit: Leith's book, for all that it is less coherent and less well researched than these, has a desperate import all of its own. Look at me, he says at the outset, I'm fat, and it's horrible. Someone, please make it stop.