Eve's Apple Essay - Critical Essays

Jonathan Rosen

Eve’s Apple

EVE’S APPLE is an unusual love story involving anorexia nervosa. Ruth weighs only one hundred pounds when the novel opens and is down to eighty-eight pounds by the time she has to be re-hospitalized. Joseph, hypersensitive first-person narrator who shares her apartment, wants to understand and help her. The novel reads like a detective story. Joseph covertly reads Ruth’s diary. He consults a psychiatrist. When not teaching English as a second language to comical Russian immigrants, he reads about the manifold aspects of self-starvation.

Ruth’s incompatible parents were partially responsible for her illness. Her mother, who has become an authority on motion pictures, spent more time in movie theaters than with her growing daughter. Joseph learns many of Ruth’s secrets, including her food binging and self-induced vomiting, the laxative properties of her herbal tea, and her secrets for pacifying hunger without eating. Joseph’s uncommon devotion, even identification, fail to help. When Ruth is taken to a hospital for anorexics, Joseph, like the medical profession in general, still cannot understand why young women starve themselves to the brink of death.

EVE’S APPLE is Jonathan Rosen’s first novel, but he is an experienced, mature writer. Cultural editor of THE FORWARD, he has published essays in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, and VANITY FAIR. His polished style is distinguished by eccentric metaphors and similes like: “In his dental office my father plays opera, and the open mouths of his patients seem to be holding long ecstatic notes.” Rosen adds wry humor to a sad story about a tragic contemporary problem.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCIII, May 15, 1997, p. 1564.

Kirkus Reviews. LXV, April 1, 1997, p. 497.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 22, 1997, p. 12.

The New York Review of Books. XLIV, September 25, 1997, p. 13.

The New York Times Book Review. CII, April 27, 1997, p. 16.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIV, March 31, 1997, p. 60.

San Francisco Chronicle. August 10, 1997, p. REV10.

The Times Literary Supplement. September 26, 1997, p. 22.

The Wall Street Journal. April 25, 1997, p. A12.