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Going Hungry: Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia Paperback – September 9, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shedding light on anorexia and other eating disorders, Taylor gathers the personal stories of a range of writers, producing an occasionally inspiring but repetitive collection. Though gifted contributors (Jennifer Egan, Louise Glück, Joyce Maynard) offer honest, occasionally insightful accounts, many are is a strikingly similar; most can remember day they began their dark journey into anorexia and/or bulimia with striking clarity. Most see anorexia as a chronic affliction, shaping their relationships with food and loved ones, but in no way precluding happy, fulfilling lives. Powerful moments come from Amanda Fortini, medical writer Trisha Gura (who meshes her story with insight into the latest theories on anorexia) and John Nolan, but Taylor's collection is decidedly WASP-heavy: tales of ivy league schools, living abroad in Italy, auditioning for prominent ballet schools and living up to the expectations of glamorous, high-profile parents do little to deflect the stereotype of anorexia as an affliction of affluence. Still, those struggling with an eating disorder are sure to find among these personal essay at least one that will help them better understand their own condition, and provide company and hope (if not necessarily a plan for recovery).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Edited by New York Sun reporter Taylor, this topical anthology showcases nearly 20 authors’ struggles with anorexia nervosa. The contributors include novelist Jennifer Egan, poet Louise Glück, and former New York Times reporter Joyce Maynard. Each author delineates his or her own personal battle with the disease, but by the fifteenth story, they begin to meld into a chorus. Young and old, men and women, all are included, and together they provide telling glimpses into the struggles of anorexics. The writing seems to be therapeutic for many, including Francine du Plessix Gray, who penned a bitter open letter to her deceased parents. Maura Kelly tells of her blue-collar widower father’s difficulty coping with her disorder as he tried to support and raise his family alone. Amanda Fortini discusses our obsession with thinness and the reactions of men and women to her weight loss after she acquired a parasite on a trip to Brazil. Each author provides a unique, often disquieting perspective on an increasingly common disease. --Katherine Boyle
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307278344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307278340
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Thomas on September 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Anorexia requires withholding--from the self, from others. This book opens up this world of secrets and deceptions. It is ranging and searching--touching on history, ecstasy, motherhood, illness, creativity, and a host of other subjects. The writers have a multitude of experiences and perspectives, and their reasons for denying themselves food are manifold. But each essayist manages to write directly and to illuminate a new aspect of an elusive and epidemic disease. An important, generous, fascinating book.
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By Reader on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
This was an excellent book overall, and a number of the essays (including the editor's own contribution) are genuinely outstanding. My own perspective is that of someone who has not experienced this herself, but is close to those who have--if this is yours as well, and/or if you are perplexed and bewildered by anorexia as a medical phenomenon, this would be the ideal book to read. It includes a number of perspectives, with all the essays well-written, direct, and unsentimental, and yet from this variety some essence of understanding does emerge with regard to what the disease may actually be "about." Very highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I am a clinical psychologist who occasionally works with people who have eating disorders, and I read this book to further my knowledge of the topic. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Each chapter is a personal story written by someone who suffered from eating disorder symptoms (most frequently anorexia with some stories of bulimia). I found the stories well-written and helpful in better understanding the experience of someone suffering from an eating disorder, including the various factors that led the eating problems to begin.

I liked how in the Introduction section, Kate Taylor wrote about various dialectics that people with anorexia experience (although she did not use the word dialectics... I'm just a DBT person). I found that to be a particularly valuable aspect of the book and was a little disappointed that she did not elaborate on this further in the context of the memoirs included.

Otherwise, I would say this book would be good read for professionals as well as laypeople.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who has struggled with anorexia for years, I found this book incredibly truthful, realistic and at the same time heartbreaking because I could feel the pain radiated from the pages. Most ed books I have read are more like a how to manual on eating disorders which can be quite triggering. These essays offered a glimpse into the struggle of an eating disorder and makes a good point about there not always being a clear cut, happy ending.
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I absolutely loved thiis book, at times it was quite painful to read because it is raw with emotions and the voices of the writers ring true even after they have recovered. This book is a perfect example that eating disorders haunt everyone ...all ages, social status, ethnic groups. For me, this has to be the most compelling group of stories; plus all the contributors are accomplished writers so the prose is fluent and coherent.
I would definitely suggest this book to all the public; eating disordered or not
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By Sherice on December 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
I recommend this book because it gives different insights to why people suffer from an eating disorder. It’s not just about the media and how women are portrayed. It deals with the emotional aspect and how something tragic can spark an eating disorder. “One of the things I wanted out of my hunger strike was for my father to realize that he wasn’t the only one with a s***ty life.” (pg 24. Maura Kelly).
I recommend this book to be read because it deals with self-image and self consciousness that everyone faces. This book relates to the current issues of the real world even though some authors write about their experience from the year 1948. It deals with the critics parents have on their childrens appearances and how greatly it affects how people begin to view themselves. “‘Your face is too wide for that straight hair’; ‘Your cheeks are too plump for pink lipstick.’” (pg 56). Even though some writers are writing from their experience many years before it’s still applies to current self-images due to people’s opinions on your appearance.
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I was expecting more diversity among the stories. Instead, most of the authors were from upper-middle class to affluent backgrounds. I couldn't identify with them. As a Black woman with Anorexia, I was hoping to find more of myself in the stories. Also, I felt that many of the stories were a mechanism to highlight their talent and love of prose rather than a way to share their experiences with an eating disorder. I skipped one story because I found it very pretentious.
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