Table of Contents
Praise for Ruth Ozeki and
My Year of Meats
“This is a very cool book, satirical but never mean, funny, peopled by
fully inhabited characters who are both blind and self-aware. Ruth
Year of Meats
reassures us that media and culture, though
bound inextricably, will never become one.”
—John Sayles, former member, Amalgamated Meat
Packers and Butcher Workers of North America, and
Men with Guns
“Romance, agri-business, self-discovery, cross-cultural misunderstanding—
it takes a talent like Ruth Ozeki’s to blend all these ingredients beautifully
together.My Year of Meats
is a sensitive and compelling portrait of
two modern women.”
—Arthur Golden, author of
Memoirs of a Geisha
“Ozeki offers a remarkably fresh view of the rocky road many women
travel to love and motherhood... one of the heartiest and, yes, meatiest
debuts in years.”
“[An] amazingly assured debut novel...My Year of Meats
is a wonderfully
irreverent novel, with wacky cross-cultural collisions and hilarious
characters... a joy to read.”
“My Year of Meats
is canny, cunning, muckraking, and lusty, weaving
hormones and corporate threats, fertility and independence.”
The Village Voice
“A likeably odd and inventively imagined tale... Ozeki writes with the
same over-the-top verve as fellow hyper-realist David Foster Wallace.”
Detroit Free Press
“Prepare yourself for a wild ride... a deftly written, witty, sometimes
infuriating but always entertaining cross-cultural tale.”
San Antonio Express News
“Ozeki has in her first novel created a story that is by turns funny,
wrenching, and ultimately emotionally healing....My Year of Meats
an open-handed gift, a nervy kick in the pants, a warm embrace from a
stranger who somehow knows you very well indeed.”
“[A]n extremely readable and entertaining book... it is, in the end, a
book that extends the possibilities of what an American novel can do.”
In These Times
“Smart, sensitive, slick and sizzling,My Year of Meats
edgy hipness informed by maturing convictions, and Ozeki’s recipe
simmers equal parts attitude and talent.”
“In her hilarious debut novel,My Year of Meats,
Ruth Ozeki combines
provocative subject matter with an irreverent humor that packs a powerful
—Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program
“This is probably one of the most direct and intelligent novels I’ve yet
read about the divided cultural experience in America.... What I like
best aboutMy Year of Meats
is its brave spirit of intrepid adventuring.
Ozeki’s voice will not be muted or distracted from its true course. Anyone
willing to face facts about what they consume—physically or visually—
should read this book.”
“A book this stingingly funny doesn’t come along very often.”
“This book is compassionate, sometimes funny, ethnically sensitive
Paul Pioneer Press
“My Year of Meats
is funny enough, more brave than funny, and certainly
like nothing I have ever read before.... Ozeki’s prose has a terrific
narrative drive. Expectedly masterful is the author’s presentation
of TV production atmosphere. The novel’s crusading hearbeat should
captivate many a reader.”
Ft. Worth Star Telegram
MY YEAR OF MEATS
Ruth L. Ozeki has worked in television and film for the last thirteen years. Her documentary and dramatic films have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. She divides her time between New York City and British Columbia.
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc., 1998
Published in Penguin Books 1999
Copyright © Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury, 1998
All rights reserved
Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint excerpts from The Pillow Book
of Sei Shonagon,
translated by Ivan Morris. Copyright © 1991 by Columbia University
Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Ozeki, Ruth L.
My year of meats / by Ruth L. Ozeki
Includes bibliographical references.
eISBN : 978-1-101-14178-6
Set in Weiss
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To Oliver, for trajectory and ballast
This is a work of fiction. Any references to actual events, to real people, living or dead, or to real locales are intended only to give the novel a sense of reality and authenticity. Other names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and their resemblance, if any, to real-life counterparts is entirely coincidental.
One day Lord Korechika, the Minister of the Centre, brought the Empress a bundle of notebooks. “What shall we do with them?” Her Majesty asked
“Let me make them into a
pillow,” I said
Her Majesty. “You may have
I now bad a vast quantity of paper at my disposal, and I set about fill
ing the notebooks with odd facts, stories from the past, and all sorts of other
things, often including the most trivial material. On the whole I concentrated on
things and people that I found charming and splendid; my notes are also full
of poems and observations on trees and plants, birds and
sure that when people saw my book they would say, “It’s even worse than I expected. Now one can really tell
what she is like.” After all, it is written entirely for my own amusement, and I put things down exactly as they came to me...
As will be gathered from these notes of mine, I am the sort of person who approves of what others abhor and detests the things they like.
The Pillow Book
, c. 1000 A.D.
The home of the white race in the Old World lies between the lands of the black and the yellow people.... In the New World the white race has settled almost everywhere.
It is thought that ages ago there lived somewhere in central Asia a race of white people, now known as
As the race increased in size large bands roamed about in search of new homes, where they could find pastures for their cattle.
Grammar School Geography,
The American Wife sits on the floor in front of a fireplace. The flickering light from an electric yule log, left there all year round, plays across the sweaty sheen of her large, pale face. Legs tucked, toes curling nervously in a brand-new pink shag rug from Wal-Mart, she is leaning forward on one arm, perfectly still. Her lips are pursed. Her husband faces her, his mouth drawn taut, ready, inches from hers. They wait.
can you please tell the wife not to stare like that! It is creepy. It is
not romantic at all.”
Excuse me, Mrs. Flowers ... ?”
Without turning her face, the wife glances sideways toward me.
“The director, Mr. Oda, was wondering, do you think you could close your eyes for this scene, just as your husband comes in close to kiss you?”
“Okay,” grunts Suzie Flowers. Her jaw remains motionless, but she can’t keep her head from nodding ever so slightly.
The cameraman, eye pressed to the finder, groans in exasperation.
tell her not to move!”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Flowers, but I have to ask you once again not to move your head ... ?”
“Muri desu yo,”
the cameraman tells Oda. “It’s
any closer than this. Her face is all shiny and blotched. She looks ugly.”
if she has any makeup she can use to cover up her unattractive skin!”
“Uh ... Mrs. Flowers? Mr. Oda is asking if you happen to have any foundation? We are having a bit of a technical problem with the camera, and there’s this one little area ... It’s just for the close-up.”
“Should I go and get it?” Suzie asks, her jaw still frozen.
“She has makeup. Do you want her to go and get it?”
“Baka ... Don’t be stupid. I don’t want her to move. Ask her where it is, and you get it
“Uh, Mrs. Flowers? Do you think you could tell me where it is? So I could get it for you?”
Suzie nods. “Do you know in my bedroom?” she says through her teeth. “The dresser? The one next to the mirror on the wall on the left side as you—”
moans the cameraman, sitting back in disgust.
Oda barks at me. He turns to the cameraman.
just widen the frame out a bit and let’s shoot it.”
“... in the top right-hand drawer, underneath—”
“Uh, Mrs. Flowers, that’s okay. Actually, we’re just going to shoot....”