Saturday, May 24, 2008
Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster
I've never been a big memoir person. I generally don't "do" non-fiction. I plowed through them in lit classes in college because I had a deadline and I have a smattering of memoirs/autobiographies on my bookshelf that I've never read (no doubt the vast majority of them will be purged with this next move in the coming month). So I wasn't sure how I'd feel about reading Jen Lancaster when I started out with her trifecta of wickedly funny memoirs.
Now that I've closed the back page of the last of the three, I am sad. She has chronicled the rise and fall of her fancy shmancy career before becoming a writer, her life in the city and lastly, her battle to gain control of her weight. Each book is hysterically funny on its own, but having read them one right after the other (if life hadn't gotten in the way, I'd probably have inhaled all three in a matter of days---damn all that husband, child, household and friendship junk!)
Since I've never immersed myself in a memoir before, I'm not really accustomed to the feeling of "gee, I'll miss her," in the way I am feeling it right now. Sure, when I finish a piece of fiction, I am left feeling a bit of loss; the characters are gone and most likely never to be seen again, adrift in the space of my memory, probably destined to fade into vagueness (unless we're talking Atticus Finch or Tess of the D'Urbervilles). But this time, I finished the book and was very aware of the fact that the heroine of this particular *trilogy* is still out there, on a daily basis living a life that is fodder for more hysterical writing.
I was also fascinated, this being a memoir, that I could actually find myself saying, "God, I relate so much to this woman." Whether it was her abject love of all things high in calories and saturated fat or the fact that she can handle all aspects of laundry EXCEPT the folding and putting away part (I am SO like that), I found myself saying, "me, TOO!!" in giggly excitement at so many parts of her book, as though I was chatting with a new girlfriend, in that fun "honeymoon" stage of friendship when you're getting to know all of each other's stuff. (I hate the word "stuff", but my brain is fried right now, so please except my apology for using the biggest cop-out word in all of the English language).
I was hugely inspired by her decision to gain control of her body and find her way towards a healthy weight and lifestyle. As I chronicle (poorly) in my other blog, No More Fat Sarah, I have had a life-long conflict with my body and it's insatiable love of yumminess. Her progression from "okay, really, tomorrow I'm going to start the diet....really," to the last page of the book gave me a sense of not being alone. I have no "fat" friends. I am surrounded by lithe, skinny girls who wave their hands dismissively at me when I lament about my weight. Reading this book was like having a friend to kvetch with about it, even though Jen didn't have to actually listen to my end of the kvetch-fest.
I'm impatient for the next book, although I know right now she's still out promoting this one--it only came out a few weeks ago. So until her next book hits the shelves (she'd better be writing one as I type this...), I will have to be content with her blog, www.jennsylvania.com.
As for my next book, I am delving back into the world of fiction with Hanna's Daughters, by Marianne Fredrikkson.