Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Internet book #1 – Tales from the Scale

The first of these turned out to be Tales from the Scale, put together by Erin Shea. I would not have bought it if a friend of mine, who is mo pie, had not been one of the writers – it's the kind of book that ordinarily makes me itch. It's calling itself a self-help book, and it's a collection of personal essays about women who are weighing in "on Thunder Thighs, Cheese Fries, and Feeling Good…at Any Size" and that, plus the picture on the cover, with the legs and the scale and the hilariously monogrammed towel and the pun - get it? WEIGHING IN? HA! - would have sent me flying away from it, probably laughing hysterically.

I was also kind of deeply unsure about the whole idea of tapping weight loss bloggers to provide essays that were more or less exactly the kind of essays you were going to find on their websites already. And reading informal personal essay after informal personal essay after informal personal essay about being fat and how sad it all was sounded – daunting. Daunting is a good word.

But my friend mo is a talented writer, and I was proud she was tapped for this, and I thought she would rise above and beyond the whole weird concept, and so I picked it up, and I read it pretty quickly and steadily, even though it was really, really embarrassing to carry around.

And so. It remains a really weird concept. I do not see where the self-help comes in. I am not sure why Erin is listed as the author and gets the acknowledgements page and her face on the back and the hilarious towel monogramming, when she is only one of the essayists in this book, and hers are among the least compelling, frequently feeling somewhat overdramatic and a little bit pretentious.

The book doesn't hang together as a book, the categories the book is divided into seem arbitrarily assigned, and I'm not sure, again, what the point was, but these women, who are writing their stories with an admirable kind of honesty (which you note on their individual websites! And for free!) are engaging and smart and you feel for them.

I found I liked these people who were struggling, and I identified with some parts of their stories and furrowed my brow at other parts and sometimes, the stories seemed distressingly similar (though the voices rarely ever were – particularly mo's and shauna's and robyn's). And I was pleased that I can continue to be proud of being mo's friend, and not have to mumble polite inanities when I talk to her about her book, because her essays were terrific. They stood out for their sense of humor and her amazing attitude, and also for the way she said that tits are a fat girl's ace in the hole which is so true and because she is positive and also funny. Go, mo.

Overall, I think this is another example of how translating from the internet into print form can go horribly, terribly wrong, which is a shame, because I really wanted to like it, and not be totally befuddled by it.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anna said...

I am here through a complicated series of click throughs that somehow involve romance novels.

Anyway.

Overall, I think this is another example of how translating from the internet into print form can go horribly, terribly wrong, which is a shame, because I really wanted to like it, and not be totally befuddled by it.

I've been trying to define just that sentiment since picking up Belle de Jour. As I described it recently "It's like reading a blog, except you pay money for it." It's a diary for an audience, and although that can work for fictionalized stuff, and does work in blogging where you know what you're getting into, something like this needs a bit more to it to really hang together well.

1:06 AM  

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