It appears that I haven’t posted in almost exactly a month! Well, as I’ve said before, life happens. I had a wonderful Christmas with family even though it was colder than the Arctic up in the north country where they live. Then I came back down south, where we’ve been stuck in a deep freeze for the better part of the New Year. We even got a freak winter storm, which resulted in the first three days of classes being canceled. I’m excited to get back to my program, but who doesn’t love a snow day now and then? Tomorrow I’ll actually have to go to class. It will be a little strange to be a student again.

Anyway, I’m long overdue on several  book reviews, and I’m starting with T.C. Boyle’s The Road to Wellville. This is one of those books that first caught my eye a few years ago, but I didn’t pick up, then it caught my eye again, but I didn’t pick it up again for whatever reason. Then I finally decided to just read it. I hadn’t read any of Boyle’s works before, but a colleague recommended one of his other books to me a couple years back- in fact, she said she stayed up all night to finish it because she couldn’t put it down. I didn’t go that far with The Road to Wellville, but it definitely kept my attention.

Originally, I picked up two Boyle books from the library: this one and Water Music. Despite the fact that it was Wellville that kept catching my eye, I decided to start with Water Music. And then I put it right back down about 4 pages in when the assumed main character began to be tortured. I’m pretty squeamish as it is, but perhaps especially so when it’s sprung on me at the very beginning of a new book. And it had such a pretty name…  I may attempt this one at a later time, but right now my reading schedule is full.

Anyhow. The Road to Wellville takes place in Battle Creek, Michigan, and mostly at the Sanitarium of Dr. Kellogg (yes, the Dr. Kellogg of Corn Flake fame). The story follows a plethora of delicious characters, including the somewhat epicurean Will Lightbody and his hypochondriac wife, who are a rich couple spending a few months at “the San” on the wife’s recommendation; Charlie Ossining, a young entrepreneur eager to cash in on the breakfast health food craze; the sordid, adopted son of Dr. Kellogg, George; and of course the luminous Dr. K. himself. These are the main players, set against a field of “patients” at the San- all of whom seem to have far too much time and money on their hands, constantly inventing maladies which the Doctor happily dispenses diagnoses and prognoses for, and the cast of business partners and investors Charlie is keen to convince. Little by little, the lives of the characters unravel, ironically set against what is supposed to be the healthiest place in the world. Boyle lambasts the place and the philosophies of Kellogg and his contemporaries. And yet, while the flaws are so apparent to the reader, it is easy to see how a privileged group of people could get sucked in to such a place in search of a cure-all for the slight imperfections that idleness has blown out of proportion. The book reads almost as a juicy tell-all of Kellogg and as each skeleton is revealed and quickly covered up again, you can’t help but cringe as you devour more.

Bottom line: Loved it. Totally grossed me out at times, but definitely a solid pick.

By the way, there’s a movie of this I want to see now that stars Anthony Hopkins as Kellogg. Anyone seen it?

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