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Fat Pig, Broadway Debut with Julia Stiles, Dane Cook, Josh Hamilton

4 Jan

Neil LaBute’s play Fat Pig is going to be a Broadway production in 2011. Julia Stiles, Dane Cook and Josh Hamilton are already on board.

 

Fat Pig, the book. Soon on Broadway.

 

 

If you’ve never seen the play, there’s also a book with the same title:

Cow. Slob. Pig. How many insults can you hear before you have to stand up and defend the woman you love? Tom faces just that question when he falls for Helen, a bright, funny, sexy young woman who happens to be plus sized-and then some. Forced to explain his new relationship to his shallow (although shockingly funny) friends, finally he comes to terms with his own preconceptions of the importance of conventional good looks.

If you’re unfamiliar with the play, Fat Pig tells us the story of story of Tom (Hamilton), an eligible bachelor who falls for the beautiful, bright and plus-sized Helen. Tom is overjoyed with his new relationship but his shallow co-workers are less enthusiastic. Tom shrugs off their objections but eventually the cruel jabs of his acerbic friend Carter (Cook) and Jeannie (Stiles), a former flame, force him to question his own values and the importance of conventional good looks. Source: Playbill.com

The role of Helen isn’t cast yet. Fat Pig will officially debut in the Belasco Theatre in midtown-Manhattan on April 26 this year.

What I like about the play is that Helen has come to terms with society’s view of her. She’s a self-confident librarian, single but content. Helen is fat without shame or apology. Tom struggles to accept his love for Helen because she falls outside of the mainstream ideal of beauty. The pressure he gets from his friends to find a “normal looking” girl is too much for him. And he suffers for Helen because of the abuse she receives for being fat.

In the play, there’s no happy end for the couple. Even though they love each other, they part ways. Tom turns out a coward, choosing public opinion over the girl he loves. And it’s Helen who stays strong, she’s the one you root for, she’s the one who ultimately leaves Tom. Helen is portrayed as a confident women, comfortable in her own skin. I think Neil LaBute’s play brilliantly analyzes society’s devotion to today’s ideals of beauty and questions our own ability to stand up to it.

Anyone read the book, seen a previous play?

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Book Review: Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

2 Jan

You could say “Good in Bed” by Jennifer Weiner is America’s answer to Bridget Jones. But it’s actually better, imho, funnier and more heartfelt.

A couple of days ago I reviewed Fat Girl (which is a memoir and as far from a lighthearted read as you can get.) I read a lot, and not only books with plus-size heroines, but I thought I’ll continue reviewing books that feature “fat” characters.

Candace, Cannie for short, is that sort of  main character where I found myself wishing I could meet her over a cup of coffee to chat about work, guys and life in general. She’s likable in a flawed sort of way. Masking her insecurities, she’s often too smart and sarcastic for her own good.  She struggles with her weight, there’s some childhood trauma, but she never loses her wit or her strength. She has a successful career, her family is supportive and even though she recently broke it off with her boyfriend, she’s okay. The twist comes when her ex publishes an article in a national magazine called “Loving a Larger Woman” about what it is like to love a plus-sized woman. Not any woman, but Cannie.

Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

Cannie’s adventures will strike a chord with all young women struggling to find their place in the world, especially those larger than a size eight. Good in Bed follows the classic format of chasing the wrong man when the right one is there all along.

The title is misleading, by the way. There’s nothing raunchy about this novel but the title refers to the column her ex-boyfriend writes. Good in Bed is fast paced with plenty of snappy and hilarious dialogue. I wasn’t impressed that most “skinny” characters in the book are portrayed less than admirable, and Candace’s mother is a lesbian–but a very cliched one.

If you approach Good in Bed as “fat” chick lit, with a good dash of romance, you’ll probably have a fun time reading . Just don’t expect too much realism, depth, or what I’d call a “realistic” ending. But hey, it’s fiction, and I like my happy ends.

Book Review: Fat Girl, by Judith Moore

29 Dec

Judith Moore’s blunt memoir, Fat Girl, is decidedly not for the faint of heart. Neither should you read it during your lunch break, just a suggestion. The story itself is heartbreaking, troubling and disturbing. Fat Girl is based on Judith Moore’s true-life story how she grew up as a fat unloved girl into a fat woman. It’s a quick read, yet it packs a whole lot of punch.

In the book’s introduction, Judith Moore warns the reader of what’s to come. “Narrators of first-person claptrap like this often greet the reader at the door with moist hugs and complaisant kisses,” Moore writes. “I won’t. I will not endear myself. I won’t put on airs. I am not that pleasant. The older I get the less pleasant I am. I mistrust real-life stories that conclude on a triumphant note…. This is a story about an unhappy fat girl who became a fat woman who was happy and unhappy.”

Fat Girl is about abuse–physically and emotionally–and a childhood shaped by obesity and parental abuse. The first person point of view makes it especially disturbing–the reader is right with her as she suffers from sexual assault and self-loathing. Her mother abuses her, reminding her constantly how worthless and ugly she is, how her mother wishes that she was never born. The abuse never stops and throughout the book she keeps telling herself that if she were thin people would love her. Food becomes her comfort–and is described in minute detail in the book, and this is why she continues to gain weight.

It’s an incredibly hard to swallow autobiography, yet you can’t put it down. It is heartbreaking to read that a little girl refers to herself as an animal and wants to transform herself into a rock cause nothing can hurt her if she is made from stone. All she wants is acceptance and love and someone who would pick her up and swing her around and around.It never happens.

Fat Girl isn’t neatly wrapped up, there’s no pretty bow around it. At the end of the book, you wish desperately for a happy end for this tortured child. Well, there’s no happy end. If there was a message between the pages, it is to think before making a judgment based on appearance because of the harm thoughtless remarks can cause.

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