Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Read all about it

198 pounds
My husband and I have just finished editing an amazing collection of stories about commuting and travel called Commutability: Stories about the Journey from Here to There (pictured to the left).

Though the theme of this book isn't directly related to this blog, there are several outstanding stories that relate to body issues, and I want to mention those here in case any of you are interested in buying the book—which is available for pre-order at the low price of just $9.00 until this Saturday, July 31st.

These stories include the following:

"Lactational" by Sara Holcombe—I think it's safe to say that many women feel like their "girls" are lacking in some way. Some of us think they hang too low, others think they're too small or too big, and many of us wish we could change them in some way. It's one of the few body issues that I find women of all sizes share, which is one of the reasons I find this story—about women who sell their breast milk to health food stories for an impressive sum—so entertaining. FINALLY, we can make a profit from our bodies at any size.

"Scream Queen" by Ed Gorman—What would happen if Lindsay Lohan disappeared from society and showed up at your local video store? This story imagines just that by following a geeky twenty-something video store clerk who figures out that one of his regular customers is really a famous B-movie actress who has recently disappeared from the public eye. Though he is initially disappointed in her obvious weight gain, the clerk—and his loser friends—eventually become infatuated with her, proving that beauty really does come in all sizes.

"Who Loves You" by Eric Goodman—There is a long history of stories and novels about adultery—Anna Karenina anyone?—and this story continues that literary discussion from the point of view of a woman who has recently decided to forgive her husband for cheating on her. But her willingness to do so is challenged when she and her husband spend time with an old friend and his new—younger, thinner—girlfriend, challenging her belief that her husband still finds her attractive and wants to be with her.

"Outbound Bus" by Yelizaveta P. Renfro—If we are being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that it's difficult for any of us to look at someone who is severely obese and not judge them in any way at all. Yes, we know intellectually that obesity is caused by many things besides over-eating—such as genes and chemicals—but this is also an issue people still struggle to comprehend on an emotional level, which is why Renfro's story about a woman who was once married to a severely obese man is so profound. We all know what it's like to try to hide our so-called flaws, and this character's attempts to literally hide her entire husband is both moving and chilling.

"Strawberry Fields" by K. Terese Pampellonne—This touching story begins with a familiar premise: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, but in this version, rather than lose the girl, this teenage boy gets his girlfriend pregnant, causing the two of them to run away together. As the story progresses, we find out that he is less interested in his girlfriend once she becomes "fat." Sure, his attitude is completely offensive, but that's why it's good to read and share stories like this—so we know why this kind of perspective is so wrong, making it a great story to have all your guy friends read. I tell my students that the best characters are the ones we like despite their flaws—think of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs—and the protagonist of this story is another outstanding example of a wonderfully flawed character.

There are more moving stories that deal with body issues—"Completo" by novelist Faye Moskowitz comes to mind—and much more, but I'll keep the other stories a surprise for those who decide to buy.

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