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)
If I hadn't head of Tostan before, I'd probably call this too good to be true. The founder, Molly Melching, moved to Senegal as a young woman and even...moreIf I hadn't head of Tostan before, I'd probably call this too good to be true. The founder, Molly Melching, moved to Senegal as a young woman and eventually founded an organization that works to educate and empower women. Eventually they added a teaching module on women's health and, with trepidation, included in that module information on female genital cutting. It's a difficult thing to talk about, and in places FGC is an entrenched enough tradition that it's an extremely difficult thing to get people to stop doing -- so Tostan didn't: they understood that communities had to come to that decision on their own. The movement gradually spread, first across Senegal and then to other parts of Africa.
Half the Sky mentions Tostan, and for good reason -- it's been successful in large part because it operates on the assumption that outsiders don't know what is most necessary, and that what is most effective is to work with the people involved to find out.
The book gets only three stars from me because I found the writing rather lacking in oomph. The author gets the story across, but in a relatively, hmm, simplistic way. It makes for a very fast read (too fast, in fact -- it was the only book I brought to work yesterday, and I had the first slow day in weeks -- which meant that I finished the book before my commute home. Woe!) but also one that could use more depth. Definitely, definitely a story worth reading, though.(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)