BK: What should read­ers ulti­mate­ly take from Rachel’s spir­i­tu­al journey?

MB: Every char­ac­ter in Milk Fed prob­a­bly has more than one reli­gion, but their denom­i­na­tions stray from the the­o­log­i­cal. If you look through­out the book, gods are made of famil­ial approval, love, desire, the illu­sion of con­trol. I think that all of us, even athe­ists, have gods. It’s just a ques­tion of what are you mak­ing your high­er power.

When I was in my twen­ties like Rachel, I real­ly believed that the answer was out­side of me, and I was like a hun­gry ghost in search of it. I felt I had to fig­ure it out with my head, and that any psy­chic-slash-astrologer-slash-new-age-priest­ess knew more than I did. Rachel is still search­ing dogged­ly for answers out­side of herself.

Over the years, I’ve come to under­stand that every­thing I need is actu­al­ly already with­in me. It’s just a ques­tion of being still enough to access it. Recent­ly I was look­ing at all dif­fer­ent def­i­n­i­tions of per­fec­tion, and I found one that was ​“lack­ing noth­ing essen­tial to the whole.” Like Rachel, my idea of per­fec­tion — whether that’s spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion, or a syn­thet­ic phys­i­cal per­fec­tion — has often been based on an idea of lack and the neces­si­ty of striv­ing for com­ple­tion. But when I think about per­fec­tion as lack­ing noth­ing essen­tial to the whole …Well, I don’t lack any­thing essen­tial. I have all I need. So in a way, we are all already perfect.

And Milk Fed is really a novel about how we all have a god or gods. Our god just changes every day. My god is just whatever I’m putting in the spiritual hole inside of me that day. That’s what I’m making my higher power. 

Every character in the book, even if they don’t have a theological god, is creating a god out of familial approval, making a god of fame or success, or making a god of beauty.