Duck Duck Book

35 – manstealing for fat girls
07.17.2006, 2:54 pm
Filed under: fiction

Manstealing for fat girls / Michelle Embree. 
Brooklyn, NY : Soft Skull Press, c2005.
[MCL call number: FICTION EMBREE; seven copies, no holds]
Angie Neuweather thinks she’s fat.  In grade school she was given the unfortunate nickname “Lezzylard,” and it stuck like glue, especially once Angie’s best friend Shelby came out as a dyke.  Angie’s mom has a loser boyfriend who is moving in to their apartment.  She doesn’t know who her dad is.  She doesn’t get on well at school, and there isn’t much to look forward to in her grim suburban St. Louis neighborhood.  Everything sucks.  Daily life breeds fantasies such as:

“There should be a horror movie called Cafeteria.  A hundred teenagers trapped inside with nothing to do.  And when the popular kids get tired of being so wonderful and pretty and cool, they start slowly killing the rejects by eating little slices of them.  Little raw slices, with sides of powdered mash potatoes and canned green beans.” (page 2)

In this book, being a teenager is totally about waiting for something to happen on the one hand, and on the other, rushing around like you’re on crank (whether you are or not) just to get shit done.  Angie and Shelby’s odd circle of friends, acquaintances, and family members hang roughly together as life passes by, getting high, skipping school, having sex, bragging, and pontificating about nothing — damn, sound familiar? And, when small circumstances conspire to scrape across Angie’s life in a very uncomfortable way, she and her people find a way to cut through the shit and (almost) make things right.

The story is great, there’s no doubt, but it’s not just the plot that makes this a good book.  Embree’s intelligently descriptive writing gets the job done without fireworks — her dialogue, in particular, is simple and unpredictable and so vivid that it’s almost like no one had to write it at all.  You won’t be disappointed.


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