cover image Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology

Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology

Donna Jarrell, Ira Sukrungruang. Mariner Books, $14 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-15-603022-9

Despite the obesity epidemic that plagues America, fat people remain such a reviled and marginalized group that contributor Natalie Kusz observes that they are often perceived as ""invisible"" by other Americans. This wonderful collection of reprints by or about overweight people--arranged by the editors of 2003's What Are You Looking At?: The First Fat Fiction Anthology--may help to change all that. Some of its essays, like Michael Martone's ""Sympathetic Pregnancies,"" describe the author's ceaseless struggle to establish a healthy and stable relationship with food; others, like Pam Houston's ""Out of Habit, I Start Apologizing,"" detail the author's complicated relationship with her body. Also illuminating are the essays by writers who are not fat themselves but who entered into a relationship with an overweight person, such as Lori Gottlieb, a former anorexic who dated a 300-pound man, and Irvin Yalom, a psychoanalyst whose treatment of a 250-pound woman prompted him to evaluate his own feelings about fat people. Atul Gawande's ""The Man Who Couldn't Stop Eating"" makes it clear that losing weight and keeping it off is no easy feat: the vast majority of dieters regain ""one-third to two-thirds of any weight lost within a year--and all of it within five years."" One of the collection's most disturbing entries is Sarah Fenske's ""Big Game Hunters,"" which records several men's candid discussion of ""hogging,"" or targeting fat women for casual sexual encounters. Fenske's piece, and several others, suggest that we have a long way to go before fat people's emotions, needs and experiences are accepted as respectfully as those of others. Perhaps this varied and often moving collection can serve as an effective catalyst in that direction.