Hex's Reviews > Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Wasted by Marya Hornbacher
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's review
Aug 19, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: eating-disorders, non-fiction, favorites

This is one of the staples of my library. I haven't read it in over a year, but I have so many of the well-crafted turns of phrase memorised from repeated readings. My first copy (accidentally left in Berkeley) was dog-eared, spine-broken, underlined and highlighted. There is a reason that it is known colloquially in eating disordered circles as "The Anorectic's Bible".

It is the tale of one girl's descent into the mirror-covered wonderland of bulimia, then anorexia, then recovery. It doesn't sugarcoat the disease, it doesn't make it seem like a "good thing to have," it shows from the first sentence that eating disorders are courting death. This is pretty standard in eating-disordered fiction. What is not standard, in my experience, is the sheer honesty of it. It demonises the disease, as it should be, but it also relates with unbridled honesty why the author found it attractive, and why they are so dangerously addictive, why the artistic, creative and perfectionistic are drawn to them. It includes snippets of theatre, plays, poems, other pieces of literature that (sometimes a bit heavy-handedly) make a point or carry the themes of the chapters.

Some people claim that this book "encourages" people to be anorectic. I don't agree. Did I find it inspiring while I struggled with my own issues? Absolutely, but if someone finds this book, with it's graphic descriptions of infantilisation, heart attacks, refeeding, growing fur, relapse and recovery "inspiring" then no matter what, they're already there.

I used to read it to inspire myself to higher weight loss. Now, I use it to remind myself not to go back to that place. Still, even though this is a five-star book and one I keep in my library, I wouldn't generally rec this to anyone unless I knew them well.
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