Here's the thing: there aren't a lot of books about, or by, males with eating disorders. Research -- not that there's a ton of that, either -- suggest...moreHere's the thing: there aren't a lot of books about, or by, males with eating disorders. Research -- not that there's a ton of that, either -- suggests that eating disorders are often undiagnosed and/or misdiagnosed in males, and when people share their stories a little more understanding goes out.
Lamparello is also -- though he doesn't mention, or necessarily realise, this -- in a subset of people who could be considered anorexic long before they are underweight, owing to a relatively high pre-anorexia weight. Lamparello was obese before he developed an eating disorder, and his rapid weight loss (and the processes that got him there) would put him at anorexic before he used this label. This is not a small point -- doctors regularly discount unhealthy/dangerous weight loss if the person is overweight to begin with -- and it's another aspect of EDs that could use more attention.
Here's the other thing: this is self-published, and that makes it harder to rate. On the one hand -- discounting any services he might have paid for -- Lamparello didn't have the benefit of editorial guidance or an unbiased outside eye. On the other hand, I doubt this would have made it past the slush pile at a well-regarded publishing house. The writing is just not up to par, and between that and the view of anorexia as an accomplishment, I found it a slog.
This is memoir, not a legal brief, yet there is no storytelling here. There is telling -- the entire book is telling, not showing -- but no fleshed-out scenes, no conversations, nothing even remotely approaching an evocative description. The author tells us that his mother visited regularly while he was ill, and they talked about almost everything; we see none of those conversations. He tells us that he sold out (i.e., didn't become a public defender) and didn't have respect at work, but we don't see anything to back up -- or disprove -- that. Not one character, including the author himself, is fleshed out.
Lamparello is not (unfortunately) the first memoirist to present anorexia as an achievement, and he will not (unfortunately) be the last. I don't even think he intends to present it as such -- it's more like the sort of thing that one thought was good at the time but no longer, but still with the flavour of but I am no longer pursuing anorexia only because I have already gotten there. Meanwhile, he sneers at EDNOS (in itself serious and potentially life-threatening) and ignores bulimia altogether, even though at times he behaviours are much more in line with either of those. (Not that the specific diagnosis is what matters so much -- more the focused determination to be considered anorexic.)
Again, this is a really important and underrepresented part (on several levels) of the ED population, and I certainly can't fault Lamparello for wanting to share his story. I'd just...recommend looking elsewhere.(less)
So this concept has beendonebefore in various permutations. That's fine -- most concepts have. But I'm not sure this really brought anything new to...moreSo this concept has beendonebefore in various permutations. That's fine -- most concepts have. But I'm not sure this really brought anything new to the table.
As a small child, Callie was kidnapped by her unstable mother, who has spent the intervening years dragging Callie from place to place. Callie has never gone to school, never had real friends, never had a place of her own.
But reality -- and the law -- finally catches up with them, and Callie is sent to live with her father. He's remarried and has two small kids, but he also lives near his large, extended, Greek family.
And then the story kind of loses me. Callie is desperately happy to have a shot at a 'normal' life but also misses her mother (okay, fair) but she also kind of...doesn't try. I don't actually take issue with the way the question of school is resolved -- (view spoiler)[trying for a GED rather than being thrown into a new world of school actually makes a fair amount of sense at her age (hide spoiler)] -- but she also doesn't seem to think rules apply to her. In some ways they haven't, of course; she's probably been taking her care of herself for about as long as she can remember. Callie's meant to be a good person, of course; she's willing to take the cash from a lost wallet but also cuts up the credit cards so that they can't be used, and she'll volunteer to babysit her half-brothers even though she has no idea what to do with kids or what's fair to expect from them. She still wants to save her mother.
It makes sense that Callie will struggle with rules, with a family she doesn't know. Honestly, mostly her push-back makes me see Greg as somewhat ineffectual. He means well, but from the very beginning he also seeks to be as accommodating as possible: call me Greg; it's okay if you want to go back to live with your mother; you can sleep in this trailer so you have privacy; you're grounded but can still have friends over and I won't do anything if you ignore the grounding; oh, you're sleeping with some guy you won't tell me about, okay, just be safe about it.
To be fair, a number of those things make very good sense. But taken together, in the context of this book, I don't see sensitive father so much as guy who has no idea what he's doing. (Although that's possibly a fair expectation. He has two little boys but no experience raising a girl, let alone a teenage girl with a Past.)
The secondary characters are...well. Am I the only one to find it odd that instead of objecting to Alex because he's (view spoiler)[Callie's stepmother's brother -- so her, what, step-uncle? (hide spoiler)], everyone objects because he's a 'bad boy'? And by 'bad boy' I mean (view spoiler)[providing financially for his parents so that his father can care for his dying mother, all the while not objecting when his father hits him because doing so helps his father feel like a man (hide spoiler)]. I love that Callie is in many ways able to take care of herself and stand up for herself; I love that she's able to take charge of her sexuality (I don't love the implication that that's only because of Frank, and that she'd be less, oh, damaged and willing to have casual sex if (view spoiler)[he hadn't molested her (hide spoiler)]). I don't love that Alex is basically her saviour boy. It's the same problem I've been having with YA fiction for a while -- there are major, major life changes in Callie's life, major upheaval and family drama and a new world order to get used to, but when it comes down to it the book is as much about the boy as anything.
So: probably an excellent book for teens who are still All About the Romance. Not as good a book for twentysomethings who are Over the Romance.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Gorgeous, gorgeous examples of libraries -- there's a definite emphasis on old books and soaring architecture here, with elaborate spiral staircases a...moreGorgeous, gorgeous examples of libraries -- there's a definite emphasis on old books and soaring architecture here, with elaborate spiral staircases and spaces that look like museums rather than libraries. The Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Wein, the Národní knihovna Praha, the Real Gabinote Português de Leitura Rio de Janeiro -- just such stunning places, such obvious ambiance. There's also juxtaposition against the very modern, though, and places that look terribly institutional.
Eco's essay, while a little out of date by now (the book was published in 2005, but the essay is originally from 1981), is nonetheless funny and on-point. (Yes, I just called it both out of date and on-point; read it, you'll understand.) I really must read The Library of Babel, which he references.
Not within the scope of this book, but I'd have loved to see photographs of personal libraries as well -- these pictures don't run to coziness! (Whenever I start imagining my dream home, I never get further than the library...)(less)
Much of the author's success in writing this book comes down, in my opinion, to her focus: Monique. It would have been easy to open the story with the...moreMuch of the author's success in writing this book comes down, in my opinion, to her focus: Monique. It would have been easy to open the story with the author's arrival in Mali, or her Peace Corps training, or a scene of an awkward cultural misunderstanding (there are some misunderstandings, but they're secondary), but instead she structures the book around her time with Monique.
At times I wished that I hadn't read the introduction -- it makes for such a bittersweet book! -- but I loved reading about the development of their friendship, and the things the author could and couldn't do something about, and Monique's increasing responsibilities within the community. It surprised me how close the author and Monique grew, but I suppose the author's outside perspective made her, in some ways, an easier person to confide in. So much societal complexity, which manifests in sometimes surprising ways.
I'd had the book on my to-read list for a while, and obtained a copy five months before reading it, but it wasn't at all what I'd expected -- it was much better, much more nuanced.(less)
There's a really important story in this book - although treatment for eating disorders has improved drastically since its writing, there is still muc...moreThere's a really important story in this book - although treatment for eating disorders has improved drastically since its writing, there is still much to be improved on and much to be understood.
That said, I immensely disliked the format. Because the author died, her father wrote the book around her diary entries - certainly valid. However, he wrote more from her perspective than from his own, which I felt was a huge mistake. It was difficult not to question his assertions about his daughter's feelings, etc. - there's no way to know for sure what somebody else is thinking, after all. I would have greatly preferred the non-diary portions of the book to have been written differently.
That said, the book really does highlight how damaging bad treatment can be. Quite painful in places.(less)
I may have to revise my less-than-flattering view of books done in verse.
I'd had this one on my to-read list for a while, but had put it off because.....moreI may have to revise my less-than-flattering view of books done in verse.
I'd had this one on my to-read list for a while, but had put it off because...well, I've read some verse novels done exceptionally well (Ellen Hopkins, anyone?) and some done...less well...and overall find them more miss than hit. But Corrigan had an essay in Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? (actually, Ellen Hopkins also had a story in verse in that book...), and when I closed the back cover of that book I turned straight to the computer to put Corrigan's memoir on hold at the library.
Now, none of this is to say that the book is perfect. I can't judge it from a poetry perspective, because, well, I am not a good judge of whether poetry is good or not. But I do think that the framing sometimes made it difficult to place the author in time and space, separated her a little from what was going on in her life. The style isn't particularly spare, and there are some really beautiful lines (116: "People also use the word recovery to describe/gathering the shards of the broken./Divers swimming circles around the shipwreck and taking./Meaning: to salvage.") -- it was just hard in places to understand what was going through her mind.
I have no great insights into this book, but it's one that I expect to end up in possession sooner or later.(less)
It's a cop-out, but the Hannah Swensen mysteries really only need a lump review:
For some reason, I keep reading these when they show up at the library...moreIt's a cop-out, but the Hannah Swensen mysteries really only need a lump review:
For some reason, I keep reading these when they show up at the library. I don't know why. Do I enjoy them? Sure. They're trashy murder mysteries that don't always make sense. I can huff at them in irritation when the main character does, or thinks, something especially stupid. They involve recipes.
Actually, the books are formulaic enough that they themselves were written by recipe.
Yes, I will keep reading them, assuming that new books keep showing up on the library shelves. I will enjoy them, and I will probably root for Norman as Suitor of the Day. But no, I will not be spending any money on these books.(less)