The Fast: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Promise of Doing Without


Product Details

$30.00  $27.90
Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publish Date
5.7 X 7.6 X 2.0 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

John Oakes is publisher of The Evergreen Review. He is editor-at-large for OR Books, which he cofounded in 2009. Oakes has written for a variety of publications, among them The Oxford Handbook of Publishing, Publishers Weekly, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Associated Press, and The Journal of Electronic Publishing. Oakes is a cum laude graduate of Princeton University, where he earned the English Department undergraduate thesis prize for an essay on Samuel Beckett. He was born and raised in New York City, where he lives, and is the father of three adult children. While working on The Fast, he was awarded residencies at Yaddo (New York) and Jentel (Wyoming). The Fast is his first book.


"Caloric restriction is one of the scientifically best-established ways to enhance longevity. A fascinating deep dive into the science and history of fasting." --Steven M. Lipkin, MD, PhD; director, Adult and Cancer Genetics Clinic; Weill Cornell Medicine
"This simple yet far-reaching account of a one-week fast shows how any of us can dissolve the constructed boundary between self and universe, experience the awe of undifferentiated existence, and make ourselves available to the greater dance of life. By all means take this inspiring journey with an instantly trustworthy guide." --Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human
"In this age of ever more, John Oakes dares to seek less in a fascinating, wonderfully researched, and beautifully written examination of the historical, philosophical, medical, and political implications of fasting--as he himself fasts and enjoys and endures the experience of 'the presence of an absence.'" --Jeff Jarvis, author of The Gutenberg Parenthesis
"In The Fast, John Oakes, with his vast knowledge base and deep insight, helps us understand how doing without can offer a glimpse of the luminous wisdom within each of us." --Cuong Lu, author of The Buddha in Jail and Happiness Is Overrated
"This book offers a careful look at the historical and religious practices of fasting, beautifully punctuated by daily anecdotes of the author's experiences and emotions while fasting himself. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in better understanding fasting and its historical echoes." --Dr. Britt Marie Hermes, former naturopathic doctor and current microbiome scientist
"John Oakes takes us on an elegant and irresistible journey, all the while engaging us with personal experiences, scientific enlightenment, and the historical context of fasting. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, The Fast will stay with you long after you've read every word."
--Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Devil in the Grove
"John Oakes has written an expansive, encyclopedic book that imparts its lessons with unpretentious conviction. The Fast is as much an appraisal of fasting as a guide for enlarging an inner consciousness. In this consumptive era, we would do well to turn to the generous intellect of Oakes--to learn the wonders of doing without, and like other venerable humans across millennia, to seek an enrichment of spirit."
--Emmanuel Iduma, author of I Am Still With You
"I couldn't stop reading this book about not eating. And I often had food in my mouth as I read. Like any important book in my life, this one leaves me changed. And I don't know what will happen next." --Eileen Myles, author of For Now (Why I Write) and Evolution
"Thought-provoking . . . Oakes presents an impressive cultural and historical survey of fasting. . . . Broad in scope and rich in insight, this provides plenty to ponder."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In this well-informed, illuminating book, Oakes shows us the value of consuming less in order to know more. . . . A knowledgeable study of fasting, which has a long history and a layered present."
--Kirkus Reviews