How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia

Kelsey Osgood, Author
Kelsey Osgood. Overlook, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4683-0668-2
Paperback - 271 pages - 978-1-4683-0949-2
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-7156-4753-0
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Growing up in a happy family in a privileged suburb, Osgood, experiencing adolescent awkwardness and feeling ordinary and ugly at age 14, craved attention and sought “artistic greatness” through anorexia, using its extensive confessional literary genre (memoirs, magazine articles) as a guide. In her first book, an intelligent but grim memoir, she attempts to deromanticize anorexia, to “show the bloody, blue innards of the monster, as opposed to its gleaming, sharp fangs or elegant, black cloak. To reveal it as messy and disgusting and awkward and sad and pathetic.” She vividly portrays the creepy phenomenon of the “pro-ana” movement and the claustrophobic, self-involved, achingly lonely world in which young women compete to be “perfect” anorexics. Although Osgood avoids “prescriptive” content such as her daily calorie count, from which she believes “wannarexics” might “garner self-destructive inspiration,” the narrative is still imbued with a pathos and tenderness that angst-ridden girls may find attractive. Only the single section proposing practical solutions fully succeeds in shedding the charged, tragic atmosphere that permeates the text, despite Osgood’s good intentions. (Nov.)
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