PASSING FOR THIN: Losing Half My Weight and Finding Myself

Frances Kuffel, Author . Broadway $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1291-4

Literary agent Kuffel chronicles how and why, at the age of 42 and a weight of around 313 pounds, she began the successful process of losing 188 pounds. She describes food binges, ill health (surgeons remove a 36-pound ovarian cyst) and frantic calls to her support group sponsor. But this is far more than 12-step, inspirational reading. Above all, Kuffel tells a great story. She possesses an eye for detail, a knack for dialogue and a remarkable sense of humor in the face of adversity. Mounting a treadmill at the gym for the first time in her life, she closes her eyes and misjudges her pace, "shooting off like a rejected can of Jolly Green Giant peas." When she leaves Manhattan in an "August pall of heat and rusty horizons" to show off her weight loss to her family back home in Montana, she inhales on the Missoula airstrip: "ozone, clover, and cinnamon lingered from the thunderstorms the night before." And Kuffel sees humor even when writing of serious events. For example, she describes waking up and finding herself on a ventilator in the hospital after hours of intestinal surgery. At her bedside is her friend Dennis, who smoothes her hair and deadpans, "I thought you'd want to know your wallet is safe." By the book's bittersweet end, Kuffel has begun dating, but starts to binge as she feels like an inexperienced adolescent. Yet she finds her equilibrium in nature, realizing that although she may lose in love, she can now realize her childhood dream of hiking Montana's peaks. (On sale Jan. 15)

Reviewed on: 11/10/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 190 pages - 978-0-7679-1293-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7679-1292-1
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