Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm Not the New Me - Wendy McClure, pages 1 through 90

(Note, I don't have a copy of the book with me, so I can't use examples or clarify anything...I'm writing this during my lunch break at my job).

Simply, the best weight loss memoir I've read. I haven't read many, but so far I am very pleased, and the other books I've read related to weight loss weren't very good (which were Judith Moore's Fat Girl, that one by Jen Lancaster with fat or big ass or something in the title, and that Japanese one that wasn't actually a memoir, but a how-to diet book, even though it was billed as a "memoir").

First off, there's nothing wrong with Wendy. She wasn't molested or has an eating disorder or something else hidden or horrible (unless that's in the pages to come). But she's regular fat in the "I eat too much" variety. And she acknowledges that in a way I've struggled to say when I try to write about weight loss. How do you say that the reason your fat is nothing special when you're writing a book about your fatness, which pretty much means that you think your fatness is of some importance?

Second, she's funny but not irritating. I'm comparing this to Jen Lancaster specifically. Lancaster's book grated my nerves because it felt like a conversation you didn't want to be involved in with someone who is terribly self-involved. The type of person who would remain a strictly "at-work" friend because she's fine in small doses, but you'd never want this person to know where you live, or your phone number because her attitude would just drain you. Mostly , I appreciate McClure's swearing. Kind of a small thing, but honestly, she's not overly vulgar and the swearing punctuates her feelings precisely as they should. It's not just Vernon God Little or something else that's trying so, so, so hard to be funny or edgy or anything. Just when something fucking sucks, she says it "fucking sucks" and you know precisely what she means, even though "fucking sucks" isn't the most concrete of metaphors.

At first, I was worried that this book was going to be an extended commercial for Weight Watchers because McClure joins the program and has success, so I thought I was duped into buying advertising (but, I bought it used for like 3 bucks, so they wouldn't benefit anyway, so, ha!). But it's not all hooray for Weight Watchers, but it just happens to be working for her and does not exhault them at all (at least so far).

Mostly, this book is relatable. Right now, I'm at this part where she just lost 15 pounds and she's out clothes shopping. She's still too fat for normal clothes, so she still has to back-of-the-rack it when it comes to selecting things. (You know, go to the clothes rack, thumb your way right to the back section and that's where the big sizes are). She's able to strike this nice balance of feeling good about losing 15 pounds, but also realizing she's still fat and still needing to shop at Old Navy & Lane Bryant out of necessity. Honestly, nothing at Old Navy is that appealing, but if you're fat, it's really the best you can do in the realm of "normal" clothes. It's this nice dance of both appreciation and disappointment. I like that.

I also like the inter-chapters she has from her online life...and that's something else interesting about this book as it chronicles the rise of her website called & her TV without Pity gig. It's also telling because, see, weight loss alone will not carry an interesting book...there's only so much a funny voice and extra pounds can do to keep your interest.

I'm curious how this shakes out. I assume the weight will go back up because that's what weight does during a weight loss journey and also in all narratives like this...the horrible moment of doubt, the hero in peril, and so on. But I'm not sure if she ends up thin or at least happy with herself. I hope the last few pages are just as good as the first 90.

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