Eat Fat

Overview

Written by the author of the highly acclaimed Cigarettes are Sublime, Eat Fat is a keen cultural dissection of a major American obsession. While there is ample evidence that fat is unhealthy for some, for the vast majority of us the risks involved in combating it must be seriously evaluated. As Richard Klein writes, "The fat we ponder serves to embody our ... drive for satisfaction and the urge to pleasure, as well as much that is self-destructive and self-demeaning in our lives." Cheeky and playful yet ...
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Overview

Written by the author of the highly acclaimed Cigarettes are Sublime, Eat Fat is a keen cultural dissection of a major American obsession. While there is ample evidence that fat is unhealthy for some, for the vast majority of us the risks involved in combating it must be seriously evaluated. As Richard Klein writes, "The fat we ponder serves to embody our ... drive for satisfaction and the urge to pleasure, as well as much that is self-destructive and self-demeaning in our lives." Cheeky and playful yet devastating for its insights, Eat Fat intends nothing less than a revolution in how we think about this complex issue. In this tour de force the author traces the older, positive meanings of the word fat. He analyzes "the thing fat," discussing not only the aesthetics of fat but also the nature of fat including the latest medical findings. He examines "fat sex," including representations of the human body designed to arouse people whose taste in beauty is fat. And he explores "political fat," i.e., the relation of fat to power. Eat Fat is a highly iconoclastic "postmodern diet book" that will be gleefully devoured by readers.
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Editorial Reviews

Stephanie Zacharek

Seave it to Klein, the author of Cigarettes Are Sublime, to give us a "postmodern diet book," one designed not so much to help us accept our fat as to love it. Eat Fat is partly a cultural study of our historical fascination with fat (Klein's clutch of references includes the Venus of Willendorf, the flushed fleshpots in Peter Paul Rubens' paintings, Anna Nicole Smith, and erotic special-interest 'zines like Fat Girl) and partly an exhortation to change our attitudes toward it. He marshals facts, statistics and hearty opinions to convince us that being overweight isn't the big health risk the media and the medical profession have made it out to be, noting that many people who are statistically overweight are not necessarily unhealthy. He also builds a pretty solid case about the dangers of yo-yo dieting and strange new weight-loss drugs. Even the word "fat" enchants him: "It's as if the word itself is always wanting to double itself, or f-f-f-f-at, to stutter in order to expand itself, to grow itself fatter as a word, already a little tub."

But even if Klein almost manages to convince us that those little dimples on our thighs aren't so horrible after all, he repeats his favorite themes and theories so often that he only wears us down. He keeps hammering at us, for example, with the idea that standards of beauty are bound to change soon, as they have throughout the course of history, and that "fatties" will again have the advantage. Klein assures us, in his own puffy, florid style, that his repetition of ideas is intentional: "You will note a certain repetitive intonation in the style of this book. It is intentionally intended to serve the same subterranean effect as prayer, which achieves its liberations through repetition. If it succeeds, it works like prayer to engender a repeating rhythm that frees the mind from its infinite distractions and allows other thoughts to form." What that means in plain English is that Eat Fat probably would have made a pretty good long essay, but needed lots of extra words to actually become a book. That kind of padding we can do without. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Klein, a professor of French at Cornell and author of Cigarettes Are Sublime, wants you to feel good about eating animal and vegetable fat, arguing that for most people the medical risks of obesity have been greatly exaggerated. Asserting that there is a wide range of healthy body sizes, he finds an irresistible charm or an aura of imposing gravity surrounding heavies like Orson Welles, Julia Child, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Roland Barthes. He calls this fat-friendly meditation "a postmodern diet book," and it is larded with playful, self-conscious irony, with literary allusions ranging from Shakespeare to Raymond Carver, as it tracks cycles of fat and thin worship, from prehistoric figurines of plump, fertile Venuses to svelte Nefertiti to the enormously corpulent President William Taft. Klein's freewheeling smorgasbord samples Americans' eating habits, supermarket labels, word origins (fat, vat, tub, etc.), the biochemistry of dieting. His investigation of the politics of fat leads from Nero, Louis XIV and weight-gaining President Clinton (who overeats under stress) to adipose byways like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance; Fat Girl, a magazine for and about fat lesbians; and the heterosexual 'zine Plumpers. While his inquiry may not persuade the weight-conscious to stop slimming, it effectively challenges fatphobia and conventional ideas of beauty. Photos. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679758488
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/12/1998
  • Edition description: 1 VINTAGE
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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