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Small Acts of Disappearance

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Small Acts of Disappearance is a collection of ten essays that describes the author’s affliction with an eating disorder which begins in high school, and escalates into life-threatening anorexia over the next ten years. Fiona Wright is a highly regarded poet and critic, and her account of her illness is informed by a keen sense of its contradictions and deceptions, and by ...more
Kindle Edition, 188 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Giramondo Publishing
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Benjamin Farr
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Wow. What an incredibly honest, raw account of the author’s battle with anorexia. I’ve never read anything quite like this before and I have gained a much more profound understanding and empathy toward people who suffer this illness. The intensity and richness of Wright's words left me heartbroken but also deeply moved.
Michael Livingston
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful series of essays dealing broadly with the authors anorexia. Wright is an exquisite writer and refuses to take easy narrative paths or fall back on sentimentality. It's a short, powerful and lyrical book that deserves to be widely read.
Alexandra Daw
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The 2016 Stella Prize longlist of a dozen books was announced on 9 February, of which Small Acts of Disappearance - Essays on Hunger was one. I was intrigued by the description of this particular book and delighted to find it available as an e-book through my local public library service.

Anyone who knows me will know that I wrestle with food and weight on a daily basis and wish I had a different body. I am obese and have struggled with my weight since I was about 10 years old. I know obesity is
Lee Kofman
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’m in awe of Fiona Wright’s Small Acts of Disappearance. In fact, I felt really pissed off as I kept reading her book, as I was profoundly jealous of her fresh way of looking at things, her maturity and intelligence. But then, these are exactly the kind of books I need to read to be a better writer. So thank you, Fiona. Thank you for bringing such an unfamiliar approach to the familiar topic of eating disorders. Thank you for writing such an ambitious, thematically rich book that does not shy a ...more
Kate (Lillytales)
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright is an honest depiction of Fiona's life with an eating disorder. Written in ten short chapters, Small Acts delves into the struggles she has faced with food, understanding the body and eating in different stages of her life: firstly at University, then in Sri Lanka while she's working as a journalist, in Germany as a young writer, and then in a recovery hospital back in her hometown of Sydney. Fiona tells of her obsession in becoming s ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm struggling with where to start as there is so much to say but also so little. Read these essays. Read them. Just read them.

I really feel like I learnt so much about hunger, therapy, anorexia and writing. Wright is a superb writer and her essays are exquisitely written and structured. I feel honoured that she shared these insights and experiences with me. This collection is deeply personal yet is without sentimentality. Wright acknowledges her own bias and rewriting of her past.

I imagine thi
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Finished: 13.04.2019
Genre: essays
Rating: B+
The more Fiona thinks about her body
the more she knows it is no longer her own.
Her body tries to fold up at the first sign of danger
…as if disappearing into a shell.

My Thoughts
I thought that eating disorders only happen to women who are vain and selfish, shallow and somehow stupid; it took me years to realised that the very opposite is true, that these diseases affect people, men and women both, who think too much and feel too keenly, who give too much of themselves to other people. I knew I wasn’t vain, I wasn’t selfish; but I have always felt vaguely, indeterminately sad, too vulnerable to being hurt, too empathic and too open, too demanding and determined in the st
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My sister gave me this book to read as I ended my 18 month outpatient treatment for an eating disorder that I have had for 9 years.
I have also suffered co-morbidity for the majority of my illness and I found Wright's various insights and realisations of her anorexia extremely relatable. She put in to words what I have found hard to express.
Some might read it and think it is self-indulgent, pessimistic & monotonous. To me, it painted a very realistic- albiet not so pretty - picture of anorexia
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most bizarre moment whilst reading this book was when the author first mentions the Warren View hotel, which I was literally passing by on the 428.

This book 'fed' my knowledge of both anorexia and addiction and I am the richer for it. I shudder to think now how far public understanding of these things is from the reality.

Better still, I now have a greater familiarity with Australian Literature and a generation just above my own of arty, USyd educated inner-west dwellers. It's nice to feel pa
Jan 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Repetitive writing, given her obsessive, repetitive relationship with food and order, it's probably unavoidable.
I started reading this book because I thought it might give me some understanding of food obsessions I don't understand.
But it was too self obsessed for me to empathise. I tired of it pretty quickly.
I started skim reading about a third way through so I decided not to continue at the half way mark.
Oct 29, 2015 added it
I read this book in one sitting, dare I say, I devoured it. Wright's essays are descriptive without romanticising the illness, and are written with the insight only someone who has endured an eating disorder first-hand can provide.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to extremely well written, insightful and educational. I also found it helpful with some of the work I do with patients who have an eating disorder. Hopefully, I will become even better at my work thanks to Fiona's voice.
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it
A tightly woven collection of essays describing a life railroaded by all-consuming illness. This book is shocking but never dehumanising, thanks to the richness of its detail and a gentle academia.
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, auslit
A really powerful insight into the experiences of hunger and mental and physical illness.
The autobiographic style was really powerful, and made me better understand people I know who have experienced similar things and my own experiences with chronic illness and insecurity. It's a very sobering reminder that EDs are about more than just vanity, which I think is often ignored in discussions about them.
I'm unsure quite how to articulate all of my feelings about these essays, but I do know that t
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A small miracle of a book. (Recommend reading alongside Olivia Laing’s The Trip to Echo Spring.)

cw: eating disorders, mental illness

When I picked up this book I had no idea it was by an Australian, let alone one from Sydney. Then came the uncanny parallels of living in the same area, frequenting the same cafes, bars, bookstores and shopping centres, studying the same subjects (though 10 years later) at the same university in the same buildings, visiting the same places and cafes in Berlin on our travels there, and other unexpected details. Wright's descriptions of all these things fit p
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stella-prize
Originally posted at Tea & Titles

Small Acts of Disappearance was my first book from the Stella Prize 2016 shortlist. I made a post about this the other day that I’ve linked here, if you’re interested in finding out more about the Prize.

The first time I looked at the shortlist and went through all the books on Goodreads, this was the one that stood out the most to me. I’ve been interested in books about eating disorders since high school. Like books about depression and anxiety, I think it’s some
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reviews
It seemed slightly uncanny that in the week I finished reading Fiona Wright’s Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger that anorexia was suddenly splashed all over the media here in the UK. That’s because Dame Joan Bakewell, a respected veteran broadcaster and this year’s judge of the Wellcome Book Prize, was reported as saying that eating disorders are due to narcissism.

She was rightly called out about this and then she issued an apology. It was clear that her views were outdated and I wan
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
While on a flight I alternated between reading an essay from this book and a short story from a horror collection and found Fiona's writing to be by far the scarier of the two. Like 'Binary Star' last year, 'Small Acts...' Is scary because of how realistic and oft times relatable eating disorders and control issues are made to the reader.

The way these unwanted thought can creep into the mind is as insidious as any supernatural invader, the delusions that they cause as damaging as any curse or c
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent. A personal experience made public by a very brave young author who does not seek our empathy or sympathy. Wright discusses her experience, anguish, obsession, and hopes, together with drawing on other works written by authors about obsession and addiction. There is only one way for her to express this: obsessively, in minute detail, while keeping readers curious to know more. I saw this in the bookshop, the cover leapt out at me - what a photographic portrait ! - and what a perfect ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
FW writes with piercing insight about hunger as an addiction; the domination of the physical self by the 'rational' self; and how this assertion of the self ('self-control') paradoxically corrupts and destroys the self. The brain is highly mutable. Starvation, like other addictions and extreme emotional or physical states, changes how it functions in ways that are incomprehensible to those on the 'outside'.

The author describes the seductive lucidity and clarity of purpose that come with hunger.
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful and unique memoir about life with an eating disorder. Unlike many memoirs that tend to focus on the gory details of the disease itself, Wright's essays are about her recovery, and how she has rebuilt her sense of self without her disease. Wright discusses her career, her family, her adolescence, books she has read, and her time in rehabilitation programs. The thing I found most interesting was the way that Wright talked about her fear of recovery, the way her hunger had, iron ...more
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable collection of essays about the author's experiences with an eating disorder. The essays are beautifully written, interweaving the author's own experiences of her illness with other accounts and observations. Even though I have not experienced any form of eating disorder, I found many points which resonated with me throughout the collection.

I think part of what makes this collection so impressive is that the author exposes so much of herself and the challenges she faces. The
Giselle A Nguyen
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
The writing in this book is absolutely stunning. I particularly loved the chapter "In Miniatures". Wright has a lot of really profound and clever insights, but at the same time, these essays are harrowing and difficult to read because of the delicate subject matter. Truly a gifted writer with wonderful control of language.

Side note: holy typos in this book, batman! Where your editors at, Giramondo?
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. This book is as much about Wright's experience with disordered eating as it is about coming to know yourself.
Ferris Knight
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
"Hunger is only political, only poignant when it is abnormal, when it is unusual and strange: in a place were [sp?] hunger is so prevalent, one hungry child with an imaginary cricket bat was just a colour piece in the weekend section of a newspaper. But my hunger, singular and self-circling, was a crisis in my hometown. It marked me out. I was wasteful, and I was distasteful. A car with wound-down windows once shot past me on the street, someone shouting from the backseat: 'Eat a hamburger, you ...more
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Written with heartbreaking clarity Small Acts of Disappearance is an essay collection like no other I have read. Wright reflects on her struggles with body and mind with staggering vulnerability. Each essay addresses a theme, moment or a text, something that anchors the narrative around which she weaves the story of her life.

"I sometimes think that this is all I'm doing, trying to use words to cut my way out of the trap. They're not enough, but they are the strongest steel I have."

Reading these
Alison Quigley
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Insightful, gentle and, at times, humorous, account of a woman abroad doing battle with an eating disorder that initially arrives in the guise of violent and persistent attacks of vomiting. In a series of essays, we follow Wright through her ten-year struggle with anorexia which is both her source of joy and a scourge on her life. She is honest in her naivety, stating that she feels she might overcome this disease through the means of travel. If enough miles could be gained between the source of ...more
Anna Mia
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I must admit, I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, there's no doubt that Fiona Wright has a gorgeous way with words. As a lyrical exploration of an eating disorder, it's difficult to imagine anything that could beat this. On the other hand, from almost the opening chapter, I lost sympathy with her. I couldn't really imagine what it might be like to purposefully throw up in a third world country, where other people are close to starving. But this is my personal opinion, and Wright a ...more
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Fiona Wright is a writer, editor and critic. She is the author of two collections of essays, Small Acts of Disappearance and The World Was Whole, and two poetry collections, Knuckled and Domestic Interior.

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