Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Size Matters

After Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday) I started to think about what to do for lent. I could never give up books. For me it would almost like giving up breathing. But it did get me thinking about the subject of fat. Here are some titles that may give you "food for thought". No fair snacking while reading - crumbs are not good for the books.

Wife’s Tale - Lori Lansen. I have already blogged about one of this author’s other books, "The Girls" so when I saw she had another new novel I figured I would try it out. Both novels take place in a small Ontario town of Leaford. This novel about Mary Gooch is one of self-discovery and a life long battle with weight. She is first told that she is morbidly obese (or as the child Mary thinks of it as "obeast") as a child of nine . Except for a very brief period as a teen, she remains so, with the weight sneaking on over the years This sympathetic character is lost in her own self-doubt. No matter how much or what she eats she is constantly hungry. When her husband does not return on the eve of their silver anniversary, Mary discovers strength that she did not know she possessed.

Push - Sapphire. What can be said about this story that hasn’t been said already? The movie adaptation is an Oscar nominated film and much has been written about it. For those who have been without access to entertainment media, this is the general story. An overweight, under educated, abused black teen struggles to better herself and that of her children. The book is definitely more graphic in its descriptions than the movie. In the book you literally see the progress of Precious’s education by the progression of the spelling and grammar of her journal. Although it is an emotional, disturbing read, it is has a powerful and uplifting ending. You cheer for Precious and hope her life will continue to improve.

Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker. When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant the whole town seems to place bets on the size her baby would be. The baby was a record breaking size and her mother paid the price by dying in childbirth. Her father was totally unprepared to raise Truly and her tiny sister Serena Jane. The result of this decision sealed the fate for both these girls. Small town expectation and family history result in surprising and shocking results.

Size 12 is Not Fat - Meg Cabot. The first novel in a chick-lit mystery series is about an ex-pop star struggling with the changes in her life and size. Even though spunky Heather Wells is the average size of a American woman, she bemoans her life and her weight problems while trying to solve the mystery of an elevator-surfing death. As with all chick-lit, there is a series of misunderstandings, humour and love conquers all. Follow-up titles in this series are " Size 14 is not Fat Either" and "Big Boned". This is what I call a "popcorn" book, once you read one page you keep going but haven’t had anything of substance to maintain you once you are finished.

And for those looking for a variety from fat female fiction, here are some novels that include, or are strictly from, the male viewpoint.

Zaftig: well rounded erotica - Hanne Blank. All humans are sexual creatures, not just the skinny ones or the straight ones, but everyone regardless of their shape, size or physical strength. This collection sets out to prove this. The main focus is the sex -- not the body size/type. Even the author admits that the reader needs an open mind to read her work. Blank states" Although this book is definitely sexual, sensual and arousing, it is also challenging–not always an easy or comfortable read." I guess you will have to judge this for yourself.

What Are You Looking At? : the first fat fiction anthology. Thirty works told by and about fat people. This work will have the reader looking at the issue of weight from a different angle.

Thinner -Richard Bachman. Well known for his own weight issues, Stephen King/Richard Bachman, has brought the issue of weight loss to his scary world. The main character, Billy Halleck, is an arrogant obese lawyer who gets away with the vehicular manslaughter of a gypsy woman. Her family puts a curse on him outside the courtroom by whispering the word "thinner". Initially, Halleck is thrilled with the weight lost but comes to realize the curse is a death sentence - unless he can transfer it to someone else.

Fat White Vampire Blues - Andrew Fox. Vampires have come out of the cave (excuse the pun) and have come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. No longer are they the rich, powerful, sensuous, sexy characters that we grew to love in Anne Rice’s Lestat. You can’t help liking 400 lb Jules Duchon, whose self-esteem issues, laziness and overeating are very much human qualities. Jules has lived all his life and his death in New Orleans. Times are changing and Jules is having difficulties dealing with the change. A major problem comes in the form of the black vampire Malice X, who warns Jules to stick to drinking white victims blood. This is a problems for Jules, white victims are harder to catch and the police tend to notice more when they go missing. What follows is a humorous set of misadventures which Fox follows up in his second novel, "Bride of the Fat White Vampire"

So when you go looking for a "weighty" book, what would you select?

by guest blogger Rosemary

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