Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer, the intellectual crush of many a nerd-set hipster, is best known for his fiction—chiefly Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything Is Illuminated. So when he set out to write Eating Animals (Back Bay, $14.99, new in paperback), perceived to be a vegetarianism manifesto, the un-hip nerds raised eyebrows, and rightfully so. But what Safran Foer brings to the table is a realistic and personal perspective that’s often lost in the food-justice conversation. He intertwines his investigation of American factory farms with bursts of philosophical inquiry and personal rumination (becoming a father, his grandmother’s Holocaust survival, awkward dinner parties, etc.). He unsurprisingly condemns factory farms, yet also disdains terms like cage-free, fresh, and environmentalism. And in the end, he doesn’t insist on others converting to vegetarianism, though that’s the diet he’s chosen for himself. MARY PAULINE DIAZ

Mon., Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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