Book Reviews

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg is another well-written book by Elizabeth.

This work of fiction opens with:

“I began at Dunkin’ Donuts. I hadn’t gone there since I started Weight Watchers a year ago because I had to lose weight; my doctor made me go. I could have switched doctors, but who needs it with all the forms you have to fill out if you switch. You just wish there were a central headquarters with all your information that you write out once so that everyone who needs anything could tap into it.”

Isn’t that the truth!

The Day . . . gets better and better with each from-the-heart story.

“The Day I Ate Nothing I Even Remotely Wanted” might be my favorite chapter.

“I began with coffee and skim milk. So you know what drinking coffee with skim milk is like? It’s like asking for a dress and being handed a slip. Also I had toast, which was equally disgusting because it was toast made the new way, using diet break, a.k.a. cardboard. Here is my recipe for toast made the old way: (1) Go to the bakery and buy a loaf of freshly baked white bread. (2) Take two slices from the middle of the of the loaf and toast them to just light brown. (3) Lay the toast out on a beautifully patterned antique china place that has a rim of gold and must be washed by hand, but it’s worth it. (4) Saturate the toast with a rounded tablespoon of Plugrá butter (European-style, higher fat content) . . . Just to be clear, that would be a rounded tablespoon of butter on each piece of toast. All the way to the corners and then some. (5) Cut the toast on the diagonal into four lovely pieces.”

Elizabeth’s books, for me, are Calgon-take-me-away moments of transcendence.

I wonder if everyone knows the meaning of the Calgon phrase?

Internet search: “Calgon, Take Me Away,” means a person “has too much on her plate and has to escape, relax, and do nothing but enjoy a calmness provided by the scent of bath gel, bubbles, salts or beads.”

Indeed, Elizabeth Berg books are a calmness provided by words intricately and eloquently strung together.

Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

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