Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Road to Wellville

The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle was originally published in 1993. My paperback copy has 476 pages. My copy of The Road to Wellville was a great find in a used books clearance section. I had read The Road to Wellville years ago when it was originally published and was looking forward to reading it again. It was just as good the second time around. Actually it might be interesting to read a biography of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. This book is very highly recommended. Rating: 4.5

Synopsis from cover:
Will Lightbody is a man with a stomach ailment whose only sin is loving his wife, Eleanor, too much. Eleanor is a health nut of the first stripe, and when in 1907 she journeys to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's infamous Battle Creek spa to live out the vegetarian ethos, poor Will goes too.

So begins T. Coraghessan Boyle's wickedly comic look at turn-of-the-century fanatics in search of the magic pill to prolong their lives - or the profit to be had from manufacturing it. Brimming with a Dickensian cast of characters and laced with wildly wonderful plot twists, The Road to Wellville is a "marvel, enjoyable from beginning to end," wrote Jane Smiley in the New York Times Book Review.

Opening quote: "Life is a temporary victory over the causes which induce death. - Sylvester Graham, A Lecture on Epidemic Diseases"

"Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of the corn flake and peanut butter, not to mention caramel-cereal coffee, Bromose, Nuttolene and some seventy-five other gastrically correct foods, paused to level his gaze on the heavyset woman in the front row." opening sentence

"It was a typical Monday night at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, bastion of right thinking, vegetarianism and self improvement, citadel of temperance and dress reform, and, not coincidentally, the single healthiest spot on the planet." pg. 6

"Preaching dietary restraint and the simple life, he eased overweight housewives and dyspeptic businessmen along the path to enlightenment and recovery. Severe cases - the cancerous, the moribund, the mentally unbalanced and the disfigured - were rejected. The San's patients tended to be of a certain class, and they really had no interest in sitting across the dining table from the plebeian or the pedestrian or those who had the bad grace to be truly and dangerously ill." pg. 7

"And he [Dr. Kellogg] found the juice of each of those oysters to be almost identical to a teaspoon of, well, human urine." pg. 21

"While Eleanor was preaching the virtues of pure food and the simple life to a gaggle of her reform-minded friends....she was drugging her own husband. Sears' White Star Liquor Cure..." pg. 28-29

"No one got the better of John Harvey Kellogg, no one. He was the master of all he surveyed, Chief, king, confessor and patriarch to his thousands of dyspeptic patients and the forty-two children he and Ella had adopted over the years." pg. 37

"Dr. Kellogg, tidy son of a broom maker, not only believed in a diet rich in bulk and roughage to encourage the bowels to exonerate themselves, but he was a strict adherent to the five-enema-a-day regimen as well." pg. 62

"Twice a day, in addition to your postprandial enemas, you'll be getting a colonic injection of whey and Lactobacillus bulgaricus - that is, the yogurt bacterium, collected in Bulgaria expressly for the Sanitarium and available only here." pg. 118

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