I Don’t Like To Look At Fat People

Unless the person has some extraordinary qualities or proximities to me, I don’t like to look at fat people.

If I see the person in shul or at work or in a writer’s group or at yoga and I get to know them, then I forget about them being fat and I relate to them like they’re human, but otherwise, I tend to shy away from fat people. I’m judgmental. I think fat people should lose weight and until they do, they’re just too sloppy for me.

I don’t like lazy people either or drunks or drug addicts or people with IQs under 120 (aka people who don’t read books).

So I admit I had some trepidation picking up Diana Spechler‘s new novel Skinny, which is set on a fat farm.

My inherent level of interest in fat kids on a fat farm is pretty much zero.

What started me into the book was that I wanted to talk to Diana again and to do that I had to read her novel. If I could’ve pulled off the interview without reading Skinny, I would’ve done so. After all, it wasn’t a Jewish book. No Torah inside. What do I need with more goyisha nonsense?

Once I got into the novel, I thought the protagonist keenly resembled Diana and so that pulled me in.

I’d prefer to read Diana’s memoir, if she’d ever write it. I want to know what it’s like to get an MFA in Montana and then to get a year’s fellowship at San Jose State and then to move to New York and to work odd jobs to get by while she lands a major publisher and releases two novels. I’d like to be inside her head as she decides what truths to reveal about her own life in her fiction and what truths are too painful to publish.

As I turned the pages of Skinny, I felt like I was getting more of a bead on who Diana is than if I were to call her up personally and chat for an hour.

Perhaps there is more emotional truth in fiction.

I know how important her writing career is to Diana and so I was fascinated to see if she would succeed. Will Diana get what she wants for her life by publishing this book? Or will she go splat?

The spectacle of seeing a beautiful woman go splat was sufficient investment for me to plow through the first few chapters of a book that seemed aimed at the fairer sex.

As my readers know, I’m uber-male. I drink testosterone for breakfast after tying on my tefillin and thanking G-d I was not born a woman.

It was a yom tov (holy day) and I had nothing else to do but ready Skinny.

The book kept my interest with its plot turns and foreshadowing. I could tell there would be more interesting things coming up so I kept turning the pages because I had to know how it turned out.

I finished it in under three hours. Her three years of work totally consumed by me! Cool!

I dug Skinny. I like how non-ideological Diana’s work is. She wasn’t bewailing capitalism and advertising and the patriarchal male gaze. If she’d started repeating feminist tropes, I would’ve quit the book and lied to her about finishing it and liking it.

I think it’s great that a beautiful woman like Diana has so many body image issues. I always like to hear about other people’s struggles, particularly the trials and tribulations of the smart set (dumb people don’t move me so much).

Until now, I’ve written this book review in standard New York Times format, but in conclusion I would like to step outside my pose as a sober 19th Century Victorian gentleman to confess that I never think about women’s body image issues unless I’m plotting how to manipulate them.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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