Thursday, November 6, 2008

Book Review: Such a Pretty Fat

Such a Pretty Fat; One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer
Jen Lancaster

c2008 Penguin Books, 400 pgs.

The third in Lancaster's trio of memoirs pokes fun at her weight loss struggle. She spends the first quarter of the book accepting her obesity, but refusing to address it constructively; the next two quarters test-driving today's popular diet plans; and the final quarter being irritatingly upbeat about running on a treadmill. This book seems to be a bit of a departure from her previous two, in that there's less plot and less funny. Less plot I can deal with, if it's bolstered with significant funny. But most of her quips in this book revolved solely around hating exercise or loving cheese; she offered nothing new in terms of funny fitness stories. Pants splitting whilst lunging? Check. Falling off the wagon with some fattening, unhealthy foods? Check. Getting stuck with a perfectly fit, Barbie-esque trainer? Check. It all just felt too predictable.

Not that I think any of it was disingenuous - quite the contrary. Lancaster may be given to some hyperbole, but I do believe she struggled along the way; unfortunately for readers, that struggle just wasn’t as hilarious as we’ve come to expect from her.

I have included a few snippets that made me laugh/snort, because the book is not entirely without its merits. If you’re a fan already, I’m sure you’ll find the book somewhat entertaining; however, if you haven’t read any of her others, start with Bitter is the New Black to get a real taste of funny.

[On her friend's ability to multi-task]: Over the summer we chatted one night while Angie stripped a bed, changed wet sheets, comforted and repajamed a toddler, and chased down a car of speeding teenagers while shaking a brick at them, never once interrupting the conversation or setting down her margarita. The only reason this woman isn't president of General Motors is because she's chosen not to be.

[On telling her mother she'd be spending her book royalty check repaying student loan debt]: ... when I told my mom about finally taking care of this debt, she said, "You're just like that Osama fellow," which... what? I said I had no idea what she was talking about and she replied, "You know, your Illinois senator - Senator Osama. When he got his book deal, the first thing he did was pay off his student loans." I told her if she couldn't differentiate between the terrorist Osama bin Laden and the Democratic senator Barack Obama, she may want to taper back on her 24/7 FOX News viewing.

[While waiting in the doctor's office]: After cleaning my hands again, I pull out my book and begin to read, having learned the hard way that the doctor's computer cannot be used to access my Gmail. In my defense, they shouldn't have left me bored and shivering shirtless on a cold metal table for half an hour that one time.

[Dowloading workout music]: The Spice Girls... my secret shame. Fletch [hubbie] isn't supposed to know I like them. Kind of like how he's not supposed to know I put deodorant on every part of my body that bends, creases, or folds (my back fat is April fresh!), or that I lie when I say I rinsed off the tip of the whipped cream container after I squirted it into the dog's mouths.

[Upon viewing her Jenny Craig dinner]: The plastic over the tub was covered in frost when I put it in, and I couldn't tell the portion size. Now that it's cooked, I see that my dinner is equal to the amount of meat, pasta, and sauce normally stuck to the side of the pan when I craft my own Alfredo...

[Email to clothing retailer]: When your plus-sized customer orders three pairs of extra-extra-large gym shorts online, do you really think two pairs of XXL shorts and one 32 Barely A training bra is the most appropriate substitution? Attached you will find a photograph of me wearing this bra on my head because it is the only part of my body that it fits.

If the whole reading thing is a little too much effort for today, check out this video promo for the book.


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