The subtitle of this book is The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater. Something many of us can relate to, although he does it on a grander scale than most, and began at an impressively early age (well documented by a judicious use of family photos throughout the book). I am not a big fan of non-fiction in general or of the memoir in particular, but I would recommend this book as one in which a person begins to come to terms with who he is, what is important to him, and why he is where he is. Those are not easy tasks. Many people spend years in therapy to figure out even one component of that triad. I like the author’s use of self-reflection after relating an event or a period of his life, and what his take on it is or was at the time. It gives a sense of personal growth, how the process of self-change occurred for him.
Sticking strictly with what the surface of the book depicts, it is a good tale of an immigrant Italian-Irish family, very smart and hard-working, with four offspring that go in very different but productive directions. Frank, our hero, has two things that stand out–he loves to eat and he is gay. The book doesn’t deal at all with any difficulties related to sexual orientation–maybe he didn’t have any, maybe that is the material for book two–the only thing in this book about his love life is directly related to his self-esteem, and it is very gender-neutral. Nothing objectionable for the reader who is struggling with the ever-widening swath of states that permit gay marriage. It may disappoint those who would hope for a more affirmative voice from such an articulate writer. But it is what it is. The book is repleat with stories of his various jobs, including his stints as the restaurant reviewer for the New York Times and on the campaign trail with W. They are interesting, don’t come off as bragging, and make for good transitions in his life.