I Spy: Fat Women Edition

It’s the end of the term, final exams and last research papers are looking at me hopefully, and I want to take a bit of a break. Both Naomi @ Consumed by Ink and L @ Fiction Fan have participated in the “I Spy” Challenge, which asks folks to find books that fit into predetermined categories based on the titles or covers. Naomi cleverly added “Canoes,” and so I proposed that each participant add his/her own category at the end. I made the challenge extra hard by only choosing books starring fat women.

melissa mccarthy.gif
Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law in Spy (2015)

#1 Food: Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson was on my April reads. I’m about half way done with it now, final exams having gotten in the way. The punctuation is bad, but I’m captivated by the characters and British humor (or is it humour?).

#2 Season: I haven’t yet read Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood, but this novel (#4 in a series) is highly recommended by another reader of fat fiction whom I trust.

#3 Transport: How do fat women get from place to place? It certainly isn’t in Mary Brown’s hands, who was pretty awful to fat women in her fantasy novel Pigs Don’t Fly.

#4 Occupation: I’m begin a little naughty but also tipping my hat to the dangerous work women of the night do by including Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner.

#5 Weapon: In this case, Shasta and Ulyssa are the weapons in Marita Fowler’s super fun and fat-friend novel Fat Assassins.

#6 Paranormal Being: I own it, and it’s on my list to read, but will I be too scared to learn more about Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead?

#7 Animal: It’s all hidden faces and hard edges with this novel entitled Beast by Pepper Pace, one I haven’t read, about a disfigured man and a fat woman.

#8 Music: A beautiful little book of poems, short stories, and nonfiction, Belly Songs by Susan Stinson makes sweet, sweet music on the list.

#9 Number: A number of fellow bloggers recommended Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake to me, though I must confess the cover is worrisome.

#10 Time of Day: I’m picturing early morning tweeting birds for Morning Song by Susan Simone, but the cover reveals a topless women with a moon in the background. Careful: that’s when strangers show up at your door!

#11 Something You Read: Naturally, a manifesto is meant to be read, so I’ve included My Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught.

#12 Color: Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo has a blue cover, blue character, and blue font. I’ve noted before the weird way books about fat women tend to have blue covers. Subliminal message, much?

#13 Body of Water: Jes Baker’s second nonfiction work, Landwhale, just came out two days ago. I wonder how different it is from her first book, which read like Fat Feminism 101 and wasn’t quite my speed.

#14 Celestial Body: How excited I am to have a place to include Fat Girl, Terrestrial by Kellie Wells! Her main character is so large (height and weight) that she is worshiped as a god.

#15 Product of Fire: Well, if something catches fire and burns all the way, you have nothing, so I chose to include Losing It by Lindsay Faith Rech, which I will read in May.

#16 Something that Grows: Now, I feel like the obvious answer here is Everything Beautiful, which tells you something about how I feel about nature. This is an Australian young adult book by Simmone Howell.

#17 Royalty: The King of Bourbon Street by Thea de Salle is a novel I picked up a few months ago. It was to me by a queer writer, so I’m hoping to get some different views of fat bodies when I read this one. This is supposed to be a highly sexual book, but it’s another whose cover is making me nervous.

#18 Architecture: Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends was also recommended by a number of bloggers. Most covers in fat fiction and nonfiction have bodies on them, and this is one of the few that actually has a building structure!

#19 Clothing: Carla de Guzman’s If the Dress Fits looks like a young adult novel, but features a woman with a career. We’ll see how mature it is!

#20: Family Members: When I think family, I think about where I was raised, so Michele Feltman Strider makes the list with her large novel, Hometown.

#21 I’m adding my own here — Favorite Fat Read: The winner is definitely Sarai Walker’s magnificent, thought-provoking, wild novel, Dietland, which is currently being made into a TV show for AMC.

 

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26 comments

  1. Nine Rules To Break… was fun. I don’t read a lot of romance, but when I do I seem to prefer historical romance. MacLean writes appealing heroines. But I’ve only read two of hers so far.

  2. I like the cleverness of your choices a lot. And I give you credit for keeping the focus on your interest in the way fat women are portrayed in fiction. I hope you’ll like the Kerry Greenwood. In my opinion, that’s a fine series.

  3. Well done on being able to fill all the slots from one genre – or sub-genre – or subject – or… well, you know what I mean! I’ve read precisely none of these, so have nothing interesting or profound to add to the discussion. But when did that ever stop me? 😀

  4. Oh wow, you’ve done this challenge within a very strict category, congrats! I just finished reading a book I think you’ll be very interested in, it’s all about feminism, and the author researches anti-feminists! Stay tuned for that review.

  5. You have to have a very large TBR to do this I imagine. Some of those categories would have me well and truly stumped – does that expression translate in your corner of the world or is it just one of those odd British expressions?

  6. You got creative with a couple of those categories – I like it! I actually read Good in Bed, but it was long enough ago now that it’s pretty fuzzy. I think I liked it okay, but was a little disappointed in the message? maybe? I remember thinking about recommending it to a friend of mine who is always trying to lose weight, but in the end deciding not to. Probably not a good sign, but like I said, it’s pretty fuzzy at this point. I’ll be interested in your take on it!
    And I remember loving Circle of Friends, but that was SO long ago. I hope it still holds up!

    • You may have been one of the people who recommended Binchy to me. I hope Good in Bed is kind to fat readers. Many of the books I have for this challenge came from lists with titles like “Plus-size heroines who don’t lose weight” that are on Goodreads. Of course, anyone can vote on these lists, so they end up with titles like Bridget Jones’s Diary.

  7. Oh gosh, the cover for Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake IS worrisome. I shall be interested to hear what you think of it if you get around to reading and reviewing.

  8. Wow – good work here! Well done on highlighting these interesting books. I’d be worried about those two romancy covers too, but then lots of Georgette Heyers and even my favourite author Iris Murdoch have had decidedly dodgy covers!

  9. Your twist on this post is completely expected and totally welcome. I adore this. It’s a neat twist on a reading list! I’ve heard of most of these books (obviously, almost exclusively through your blog, one of the many reasons I love your content) — but these short reasons why these are the right books slay me. They are perfect.

    I agree with you about the concern regarding those romance covers… the women on them are not fat. But, this begs to ask the question, are the women on the cover supposed to be the fat protagonist?

    • That’s a good question. I’ve noticed that in other books with fat protagonists that the cover still features a thin girl or woman. When I had a Twitter account, I would read how the authors were disappointed, but they have no control over their covers when they’re published through a big press. SOME small-press authors get a say.

      • Yes! I had forgotten about stuff like this. I read a fascinating article about the whitewashing of Nnedi Okorafor’s The Shadow Speaker. I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection that this could happen with other covers. I understand if the details around the character are omitted from the cover artist’s blurb, but still…

        • How did you make a hyperlink in the comments??? WHOA!

          I read the article, and I couldn’t help but think that even in a PRACTICAL sense it doesn’t work to have a white woman walking through the desert with her head uncovered. She would burn right up! I’m surprised the article didn’t mention all the movies set in and around Egypt that have been whitewashed, since Okafor’s books are set in Africa.

          • It’s all about understanding the HTML. This is how it works:

            Highlighted anchor text here

            (Let’s hope that works how I intend it to…. If not, I’ll figure out something else…)

            This article feels really focused on books rather than other forms of media. It’s important, however, to be able to look across all the formats and find these common barriers. How else will we break them down?

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