From Publishers Weekly
This collection of 92 brief poetry and prose pieces, some previously published, is a virtual celebration of dysfunction. With few exceptions, these works--many written in the first person--depict a world in which a Ben and Jerry's shop can be a "den of . . . sin" or a "house of worship," but not just a plain old ice cream store. Many of the works (no distinction is made between fiction and nonfiction) depict dieting, gorging, anorexia and/or bulimia as a way of life; ultimately eating is "all one extended, unsatisfying experience." "Empty" and "full" have little meaning; the standards are victory (e.g., getting a snack on the sly) and defeat (e.g., gorging on that snack). These women fight the contradictory influences of families, friends, and society at large, that promote food while elevating svelteness to a cardinal virtue: "Women's magazines give us luscious cake recipes for our families and diet tips for ourselves." While many individual works are effective and the sheer number of pieces argues for the prevalence of eating disorders, for the general reader Newman's ( Good Enough to Eat ) collection goes beyond thoroughness to obsession--an interesting failing, considering the subject.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Feminist writer Newman (Good Enough to Eat, 1986, etc.--not reviewed) put together this collection of original cries, complaints, and confessions on the belief that ``most of us [women] have, or at least at one time had, a voice inside us that nags at almost every meal: You shouldn't eat that.'' Lee Lynch, one of several lesbian contributors, maintains that ``there is probably not a lesbian in the world who would not, at the slightest sign of interest, tell you about her personal history with food.'' The ninety other anorexics, bulemics, overeaters, and other food- disordered women represented here--few if any of them accomplished writers--would seem to bear out these assertions with their lamentations about ups and downs and mostly losing battles against cake and chocolate and whatever high-fat confection might stuff up their empty and demanding selves. Typical openers: ``I can't remember a time when I wasn't obsessed with food''; ``...another sob story of a female blaming her family for the voids in her life.'' True, but this last writer assumes too much when she adds that ``my story was different.'' These no doubt heartfelt accounts, whether in the first or third person, might be therapeutic for the writers and company for the misery of similarly obsessed readers. They might even act as a temporary curb for overeaters (it's hard to imagine anyone wading through the entire volume with appetite intact)--but they are pathetically short on insight, analysis, perspective, or even compelling re-creation of experience. In the last of these qualities, at least, they can't touch the several well-known harrowing tales by slaves to alcohol and drugs. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.