Friday, September 25, 2020

A Middle Grade Book About Eating...Sort Of

For some time now, I've been interested in writing essays about eating. I'm not talking food writing. For food writing, you actually have to know something. I'm talking about eating, because eating is universally interesting. What do you have to know?

So when I stumbled upon Pete Hautman's Slider,  a book about a boy about to start high school who is a fan of competitive eating, I thought, Well, that's eating.

Our narrator, David's, younger brother, Mal, is autistic. That could easily be the set-up for a problem story. But, no, Mal, who does require a lot of care from the family, is more of a background/side character, just as David's older, college-aged sister is. David's problem here is that he used his mother's credit card to bid on what is said to be the a half hot dog that was a sort of souvenir of a competitive eating contest and through some kind of technical glitch ended up paying $2,000 for it instead of the 20 he'd planned. Now he's desperate to get the money to pay his mother back before she realizes what he's done.

So, of course he decides to do so by entering and winning a competitive pizza eating contest. That requires he first win a qualifying contest and there's an entry fee and some skullduggery on the part of other adult competitors.

This is a light read with an interesting and somewhat unusual story line, at least for this reader who doesn't know much about competitive eating.

Fifteen years ago, I read Hautman's book Sweetblood.

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