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14 M!fth andAddiction in jonathan Rosen's H eve's Apple" SUZANNE EVERTSEN LUNDQUIST Any discussion of the female body ought to be grounded in personal experience. - Janet Burstein, Drew University I call it "personal voice criticism." -Carole S. Kessner, SUNY Stony Brook! Studied alive, myth . .. is not an explanation in satisfaction of a scientific interest, but a narrative resurrection of a primeval reality, told in satisfaction of deep religious wants, moral cravings. - Bronislaw Malinowski, Magic, Science and Religion The specific struggles we undergo with our addictions are reflections of a blessed pain. To be deprived of a simple object of attachment is to taste the deep, holy deprivation of our souls. To struggle to transcend any idol is to touch the sacred hunger. ... It is a willing, wanting, aching venture into the desert of our nature, loving the emptiness of that desert because of the sure knowledge that God's rain will fall and the certainty that we are both heirs and cocreators of the wonder that is now and of the Eden that is yet to be. -Gerald G. May, Addiction and Grace 185 186 SUZANNE EVERSTEN LUNDQUIST I became interested in Jonathan Rosen's novel Eve's Apple when I heard Rosen speak on the history of the Forward (an American Jewish newspaper out of New York) at the annual Jewish American Literature Conference in Boca Raton, Florida in 1999. I admired his presence; he was confident, knowledgeable, and had a sophistication about him that drew me to believe in his motives for doing scholarship. When I heard that he had also published a novel in 1997, and that furthermore it had something to do with Eve, the woman whose subtitle is the mother-of-living, I was intrigued and determined that I would not only read the novel but write about it. Little did I know when I volunteered to speak on the text that it was about eating disorders—a very distasteful topic. And yet, this novel has become important to me in ways that few have. Indeed, for me the academic is also personal. I first read Eve's Apple when I was in the Netherlands visiting my daughter. She had a baby in June and the delivery was difficult—she lost two liters of blood and required several transfusions plus an immediate operation once the baby was born. During her pregnancy, she selected with care every mouthful of food for her son. But she also complained that she was constantly hungry throughout the nine months. As a result, she went from a size four to a size she wouldn't reveal. Her sixty-plus pounds of weight gain, however, alarmed all three of my daughters. The second time I read the book, I was home in Utah. My second son had just been released from the hospital after a fifteen-month stay for various complications due to brain chemistry disorders. When he was first admitted to the hospital, he was terrified of eating anything. He lost seventy-two pounds in less than two months. The hospital staff had him on a twenty-four-hour watch to ensure that he not only took his medications but that he did not purge the medications or his meals. I also suffer from a disease called PCOS—a condition related to the failure of the insulin in my body to convert certain foods into energy. I likewise have never come to terms with my body, even though, philosophically, I can discourse at length about the major mind/body split we have inherited from Western thought—a separation that has long privileged the spirit, mind, or intellect over the body. Is there any wonder, then, that Rosen's novel would be of interest to me? Essentially, this novel suggests that "A" is not only for apple, but also for addictions and anorexia. And furthermore, the text suggests that the West's problems with food are inseparably connected to the book of Genesis. Given the various historical interpretations of the forbidden fruit, it is no surprise that women, and therefore all living, have an uneasy relationship to what they eat. The blurb on the jacket claims, "Part psychological mystery, part poignant love story, Eve's Apple brilliantly captures our passionate longing for knowledge, connection, and acceptance." It continues: Myth and Addiction in Jonathan Rosen's Eve's Apple 187 Ruth Simon is beautiful, smart, talented, and always hungry. As a teenager, she starved herself almost to death and...


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