Dean James (review date 1 February 1996)
SOURCE: A review of St. Burl's Obituary, in Library Journal, February 1, 1996, p. 96.
[In the following review, James asserts that "Akst offers an amusing story" in his St. Burl's Obituary.]
[In St. Burl's Obituary] Burl Bennett is an overweight obituary writer for a New York paper who stumbles into the aftermath of a mob killing in the restaurant he co-owns with an uncle. Eventually, intimidated by threats against his life, Burl leaves New York and heads out West on a bizarre odyssey. He winds up in Salt Lake City, where his weight continues to increase, until he literally gets stuck in the door of his hotel room. Burl has various adventures as his girth expands and contracts along with his economic status, and he explores every nuance of his own identity and what it means to be fat in contemporary America. The story comes full circle when Burl, having assumed someone else's identity, returns to New York, where he finally faces the issue of who he really is. Akst offers an amusing story; he writes lovingly about food, but Burl is by turns an engaging and repulsive hero. It's hard to predict what kind of audience this quirky novel will attract. Recommended for large fiction collections.