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02 April 2010 @ 10:37 pm
[books] (Fat) Fiction Friday: Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead  

(Fat) Fiction Friday

For awhile now, I’ve been meaning to spend more time talking about the books I read. Specifically, I wanted to talk about books which include fat characters, though that won’t be my exclusive focus. Such is born (Fat) Fiction Friday, because the fat will come and go, but Fridays are forever. Or something like that. I like alliteration.

(You may be interested in an old blog post of mine talking about fat and feminism, Fat, Ugly, and Pissed, and Tammy Pierce’s response to it, So WHAT if we’re FAT? Which, for the record, that she read and responded to it brought me great joy. Tammy Pierce has been my favorite author almost my entire life and is one of my biggest feminist influences. I have a touch of hero worship for her.)

So on Fridays (though not necessarily all Fridays, as I head into the end of the semester, finals, graduation, and the bar exam) I will discuss fiction.

(I wrote most of this the other day and intended to come back and add more before I posted today, but my allergies hit really hard and I’m almost out of Friday. Since this is (Fat) Fiction Friday, I want to get it posted before Friday ends, but if it’s scattered or confusing in places, I’m sorry.)

(Fat) Fiction Friday: Guardian of the Dead

It’s really kind of fitting that Guardian of the Dead is my first (Fat) Fiction Friday book. For one thing, it is Karen Healey’s first published novel and it was officially published on 1 April and it is the first novel by one of my close friends published by a major commercial publisher. For another, I first read this in first draft form, so rereading the official published version was a different experience. (A good experience, but different.) I reread books quite frequently (this is why I have both a large book collection and a teetering, towering To Read pile; the books I reread most make it into the collection, but there are quite a few of them, and so the To Read pile sometimes goes unread), but generally those are books which stay the same from one read to the next. Guardian of the Dead isn’t. (Or rather, wasn’t. From now on, it will stay the same. Which is perfectly fine with me, because I loved it and devoured it in just a few hours.)

Blurb )

Brief review )

Fat Content Review )

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lilacsigil: 12 Apostleslilacsigil on April 3rd, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Yay! I am waiting for this book to arrive, so it's great to hear good things about it. I have been many, many sizes, and the size I was in my high school years (though I was not technically "overweight" at the time, I was a tall, muscular, big-bellied girl) gave me trouble with school uniforms and theatre seats, but not bus seats, airline seats or menswear. I can picture Ellie exactly from these descriptions.
Carla M. Leecarlamlee on April 3rd, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for your comment. I actually went back and added to the review, inspired in part because of this. I love that you're able to picture Ellie exactly from those descriptions, and I'm left again wishing I had more experience with school uniforms. (For one thing, I think I would have loved not having to make any clothing decisions in the mornings when I was mostly asleep as I got ready.)

(Edited to Add: I don't think I was very clear in what I actually meant in the previous paragraph, so I will try again. I meant less that Ellie isn't fat or big and more that I think sometimes Ellie comes across as seeing herself as the size she is and sometimes as seeing herself as much bigger than she is, and I'm intrigued by that. I'm also interested in the different ways we as readers interpret the size of characters. This also makes me think about the different ways we draw lines between fat and not fat, though not necessarily thin. I am absolutely not trying to draw a not-fat-enough line here, because one of the things that frustrates me about the fat acceptance movement is that people do tend to draw a sharp line between fat and not fat enough, whether or not society would treat the not-fat-enough person as fat. And different weights look different on different people. And finally, different cultural references lead to different interpretations of character size anyway; as a friend of mine mentioned after she read this, her experience with school uniforms was that she was too big for them but she didn't have trouble with airline seats, and with another that there is a different expectation of comfort in, say, a theater seat and an airline seat or a bus seat depending on where you are and how you were raised. So it's all very relative anyway, but, as I've said too much, very interesting.)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostleslilacsigil on April 3rd, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
Yes, it's difficult to draw a line between "fat" and "not fat" when the same person can be both in the same minute. School uniforms were good for exactly the reason you say - no worrying, no fussing, everyone dressed the same. I campaigned for years to be allowed to wear trousers, and two years after I left, this was finally allowed (I did have success with wearing shorts for sport rather than netball skirts, though!)

I like seeing someone written as having problems because her environment (or clothes) are too small or wrongly shaped, rather than her body being "wrong", but I would be surprised if a teenage girl in a fat-phobic society could look upon even a slight increase in fatness without feeling negative; of course, it's even more complex for a character. The line between fat and not-fat is really difficult, and, as you clarified, I think I would rather see a not-entirely defined big girl who is sometimes too big and sometimes not than put her in a "YES SHE'S FAT" or "NO SHE'S NOT" category.
(Deleted comment)
buffyfan30buffyfan30 on April 8th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
Have you read Size 14 Is Not Fat? It's good, fun crime-solving fluffiness.