Such is the subject line of an email I received from reader Alek, who wonders why I have yet to write a critical review of Michael Pollan’s latest book, Food Rules. It’s the latest in a long series of emails I’ve received since the book came out in January. I’ll admit I’ve been tempted at various points, and came very close in the early spring. I actually had a copy in-hand in the checkout line at Borders one afternoon. Standing there, I began to leaf through it, and shortly realized that what I was holding wasn’t really a book. Rather, it was just a bunch of bits and pieces of text culled from various email conversations, all pasted together. Its only reason for being: to give Pollan’s publisher, Penguin, a revenue stream while he researches his next oeuvre. I was immediately put in mind one of those sitcom “clips shows” where the cast sits around reminiscing about their escapades between bits of recycled footage.
Who would ever want to watch that? And who, really, wants to read something like Food Rules? It’s nothing more than a preachy list of reasons — 64, to be exact — to feel guilty about what you eat. That fact alone, I would think, would give all but his most devoted fans reason enough not to buy it. Why should I pile on?