Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm Not the New Me

Wendy McClure

So ages ago I meant to write about Wendy McClure's I'm Not the New Me,, which is mostly marketed as a memoir about weight loss but is, really, more a memoir about starting a website about losing weight.

That's why I liked it, I think – McClure's personality is biting and smart, the opposite of sentimental, and you can see that she'd do anything in the world to avoid being twee, and you like her for that. You like the way she thinks about her life in relation to the weirdness of having a website about her body, her attitude toward the losing weight, her outlook in general, her self-consciousness about the weight loss, the website, the book that not so much evolved from the website but was inspired by.

There is a distance, though, in that acerbicness and that unwillingness to look stupid even while she shows a readiness to make fun of herself and the whole business before anyone else can, an emotional reticence which seems odd in a memoir, which keeps you at a distance while you read. You like the narrator, you root for her and her relationships, but there's a cageyness that keeps you from getting entirely involved.

But it was funny, and parts were moving despite the distance, and the writing is sharp and good and sometimes great and often hilarious.

And I kind of loved this incarnation of the website-to-paperback – instead of trying to awkwardly fictionalize, or reprinting and expanding essays from the site, or writing things that are similar to what you'd find on the site, it is actually the story of the website itself, and that is a really interesting choice and makes for a kind of cool book.

McClure is pretty careful to explain how the web thing works, and personal online journals and blogs and Journalcons and things, but thinking about it now, way out from the actual reading of it, like, three months ago, I wonder how much it would actually mean or resonate to anyone who is not already fairly familiar with the phenomenon – they'd be more interested in the weightloss and life and love portion of the book, I'd imagine, and I am not sure how much it stands up as that kind of memoir.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you realize how much you use the words "kind of" in your review of this book?

7:51 AM  
Blogger jen fu said...

Kind of. Now that you point it out. Darn.

10:14 AM  

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