Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Q&A: THE FIVE W’S Of Jon Reiner + Giveaway

 Diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Jon Reiner suddenly found himself in need of emergency surgery when his intestines tore. The bad news for Jon didn't end there. The doctors told him he would need to be feed intravenously. For three months Jon couldn't eat or drink anything--not only did this change his relationship with food, but changed the way he looked at life.

 The Man Who Couldn't Eat --this is Jon's story.

“An engrossing and candid memoir…fearless and singular.”-Publisher’s Weekly
“I will never take eating for granted again. Wow! What a roller coaster. All I kept thinking was, you cannot be serious! But he was.” – John McEnroe

I am thrilled to have Jon join us here at A Novel Review! I’ve been reading a number of things about Jon lately and getting to know more about his book. When I was asked to host a Q&A with Jon I was excited to get to know more about Jon the man—the writer. The first thing I learned is Jon is a good sport! My apologies, Jon! And yes you are an exotic here!!

Welcome to A Novel Review, Jon! Now let’s get to know:
The Five W’s of Jon Reiner

WHO? Who are you as a writer, women, an idea of who is the man is behind the book?
First off, it’s an honor to be featured on your site.  I see that my gender makes me exotic, and that’s not something I get a lot of.  So, thank you.  I can’t answer the “Who are you as a woman?” question – my photo is a dead giveaway – but I might be able to come close.  I’m a stay-at-home dad for two boys who are 12 and 8 years old, and a husband to a woman who is ageless.  Much of my memoir, The Man Who Couldn’t Eat, focuses on the impact of food and my Nothing-By-Mouth status on my family, and it’s no accident that my editor’s summary comment on the first manuscript was, “More Susan!”  That wasn’t a difficult direction for me to take.  So much of who I am is determined by my wife and kids’ needs and schedules, and my identity as “Teddy and Finn’s dad,” or “Susan’s husband” has a prominent place on the page.
WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
I love reading.  I’m a “methodical” (i.e. slow) reader, so I am always horrendously behind-the-curve in getting to everything I want to read.  I’m sure it will be impossible for me to ever catch-up, but I keep buying books.  Yes, I am delusional.  Another great pleasure is exercising.  Writing is so sedentary, after a day of work my spine and shoulders are like a twisty pretzel, and if I can exercise I’m able to feel like a human being again.  I walk, swim, lift weights, and stretch, but it usually requires a chunk of time I don’t have, so I’m always behind in getting to my routine, just like my situation with the books.  Fortunately, my gym has a very forgiving “freeze” policy.
WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I can never remember not wanting to be a writer, but it’s taken decades to make good on that ambition.  Or, as Mark Warren, my Esquire editor said when “The Man Who Couldn’t Eat” first appeared in the magazine, “You almost had to die to get published.”  We all suffer for our art, but did mine have to be so literal?  My father is a storyteller, and I inherited the gene. I grew up with him telling us wild Baron Munchausen stories around the fire in Maine, and I've never forgotten them. I've been writing stories since I was a kid.
WHERE? Where do you write?
Often times, sitting up in bed, as I am right now.  If I’m working long stretches, I need to keep my legs elevated, and the bed or our living room couch are the only places to do that in our apartment.  We don’t have a study or spare room.  The bed is also a great workspace for spreading out notes and books.  Susan has tried to convince me that working in bed isn’t great psychologically – that the encroachment of work into our place of rest contributes to my occasional insomnia – but there’s a healthy precedent.  Look how productive Brian Wilson was in bed.  O.K., maybe that’s not the best example.  My other favorite place to write is the reading room of a library.  I love libraries, and if I’m traveling, I’ll find the local library and be quite at home, as I just did in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles during my book tour.  Much of The Man Who Couldn’t Eat was written in the reading room of the 42nd Street Library in Manhattan.  Big room, big ideas, big words.
WHY? Why do you write?

Writing is instinctive for me.  If I make an observation or have a thought or if a phrase comes to mind, it’s always in the context of what I’m writing or thinking about writing.  Writing is how I make sense of the world.  And I’m not ashamed to admit I find it very satisfying.  When I’m writing, and I’m engaged in the work, I’m happy.  Sure, I have great fun lying on the beach, grilling outdoors, going to the movies, playing ball, and the life of leisure has its appeal, but, for me, that’s transitory.  Nothing compares to the enduring satisfaction of writing and of having written.  Facing a blank page is an exciting challenge with endless possibilities.  I find great hope in the creative process, and where there’s hope, there’s life.  

His Book (Goodreads):
Jon Reiner was middle-aged, happily married with two children, living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and acclimating to his role as primary parent-caregiver when he suffered a near-fatal collapse due to complications from his chronic battle with Crohn’s disease. From that point, he was forbidden from eating food, fed intravenously, and denied the pleasures of taste, which, as an award-winning food writer, had been a central part of his life. In The Man Who Couldn't Eat, Reiner reinvents the foodoir, recounting what happens when a man obsessed with food cannot eat,and what happened to his family as a result. Coping with illness, unemployment, and financial ruin spun him into a deep depression, straining his relationship with his wife and children. It was this deprivation, ironically, that forced Jon to recognize what he’d been taking for granted.Eloquent and powerful, this is one man’s journey from deprivation and despair to ultimately acceptance and appreciation of what is truly important.

I am very excited to be able to give one copy of The Man Who Couldn't Eat by Jon Reiner away! If you have a US/Canada address just comment below to be entered into the giveaway. The giveaway will run until November 12 midnight EST.

You can buy your copy now:

Barnes & Noble
Your local bookseller

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Jon. To learn more about Jon you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or on his website www.jonreiner.com 


  1. Sounds like this is right up my ally. I will give this book a read. Thanks

  2. What a thrill to make my A Novel Review debut! Thank you for the opportunity. The 5 W's were great fun, and I hope your readers get a kick out of it, and The Man Who Couldn't Eat.

  3. This sounds interesting. I have a niece who has colitis although this is a different disease it sound like it could be similar. Thanks for the giveaway!


  4. Great questions for writers!! Loved the interview!

    Brittany Roshelle

    The Write Stuff

  5. thanks for the chance to read this this fabulous book :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  6. This looks like a good read. I wish the best for Jon Reiner and his family.

  7. Thanks to everyone who participated in our giveaway for The Man Who Couldn't Eat. Our winner by random.org was #1 Steve Brace. Steve you did not leave an email address. Please email me at anovelreview@yahoo.com with your address, so I can make sure we can get your copy to you.