Review for "Eat Only When You're Hungry" by Lindsay Hunter (2017) Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a short little book that packs a helluva punch. I’ve loved Lindsay Hunter ever since her first novel Ugly Girls. Her writing is concise, smart, and she’s just not afraid to go there. This book is no exception to her genius.
Eat Only When You’re Hungry is the story of Greg, a overweight, depressed, middle aged accountant, who rents an RV and travels cross country to try and find his missing drug addict son, Greg Jr (GJ). For the entire novel we’re mostly in Greg’s head, flashing back and forth between his RV trip and his earlier marriage to GJ’s mother Marie, past scenes of his son’s gradual decent into addiction, and his present stale marriage to a fellow accountant, Deb. In many ways and more, Greg is just as messed up as his son, GJ: he has an unhappy childhood and in turn is a uncommitted father to his son, a bad husband to his first wife, and is a bad husband to his current wife. He eats junk food constantly to numb his pain, or any kind of reminder of his past failures.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a short book (about 200 pages), but an absolute beast to read. I liked it, but make no mistake–this is some dismal subject matter here. Addiction is always a scary subject, and I certainly applaud Ms. Hunter for exploring it. Booze, love, control, drugs, food, sex–everybody in this story has some kind of craving for something. The words kept me going, though I can’t say that I loved my experience with this book. None of the characters are particularly likeable, and many of the character’s actions are repetitive to the point where you just want to scream “enough already!” Bad choices outweigh good ones, and the cycle of fucking up and coming back again to the same poor choice is, as you come to realize, the language of broken people who don’t realize how broken they really are. It’s also the nature of hunger, which is reflected on multiple levels in this novel–hunger for love, for attention, for a sense of belonging.
I definitely recommend this book. Great writing, deep insight. A-