Fat Sex: The Naked Truth by Rebecca Jane Weinstein

Fat SexThis book had a lot of wasted potential. It definitely wasn’t the book I thought it would be.

Judging by the title, one might think this is some kind of lascivious indulgence, or possibly an expose of sorts. Neither is accurate. The book is introduced as a collection of vignettes of fat people who have come to accept their sexuality, and indeed have much satisfying sex.

In truth this book is little more than a platform for the author’s social crusade on fat justice. She obviously feels wronged by the world, and interposes with her commentary on the plight of fat people in modern society. Unfortunately, she interrupts the fascinating stories she presents in order to advance her cause.

If the book had an introductory chapter or two, and/or concluding chapters on the very real social issues fat people face in modern society, I would forgive the author. As is, I feel cheated out of a better book – the book that was actually advertised, you know, about fat sex. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel so bitter if the title were changed, or just different. This book is not the naked truth about fat sex.

While reading the individuals’ stories, I got the impression that Weinstein hadn’t actually interviewed these people. It seemed like she had limited material to work with, almost as if she asked for stories to be submitted online or via email, and she just used what she could and extrapolated the rest of their stories.

Weinstein’s voice and opinions were distracting from the stories themselves. And some of those opinions were just insulting. She compared all “fat admirers” (her term for regular sized people who prefer fat sexual partners) to closeted gay people. She obviously took this opinion from one of her vignettes. One individual did compare his experience with that of closeted gay people. However, Weinstein strings out the references and connotations a little too far. She uses this comparison in all case studies of fat admirers. It felt forced in some instances.

Honestly, I started to yell at the book as I do the news on television. The news will often start a story, cut to an interview, and then halfway through cut to commentary before finishing the interview. This is infuriating to me. Why not just finish the interview? You can give all the commentary you want afterward. Grr! This same thing happened in the book. She’d start with a story, and just when it would start to get interesting she’d cut in with her social justice parade. It was sometimes relevant. Big emphasis on the sometimes. There were such long, unrelated diatribes that I sometimes even forgot the details of the person’s story. Weinstein lost my interest so thoroughly that I forgot what we were talking about in the first place.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It’s poorly written, and in need of some serious editing. There are typos and grammatical errors throughout the book. How do books run through so many editing phases without these simple things getting caught and fixed before printing? There are much better written books on the social injustices of fat people. Health at Every Size is one of them. Read that book instead.

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

Dreamcatcher

I finished reading Dreamcatcher by Stephen King over the weekend. I liked it. I didn’t love it, but it was an engaging story. I’ve found myself thinking about it on and off since finishing. It’s a rather long book at 620 pages. The length isn’t a bad thing, but it could have used a bit more editing. There were overly indulgent portions, and then other parts that could have used some more fleshing out.

The book starts out with the story split between four male friends, our protagonists. We get some background about the friends as they each prepare to meet for their annual November hunting trip in the woods outside of Derry, Maine. These four have been together since jr. high school, and thus have mottos and catch phrases that infect the book. By the end, I’m likely to summarize the whole book by labeling it SSDD, or Same Shit Different Day.

Though, in truth their story is anything but SSDD, nor has it ever truly been. These friends share an unshakeable bond that was formed during one heroic act when they were about 14 years old. Henry, Jonesy, Beaver, and Pete stood up for and protected a disabled boy named Duddits from the bullying of the local quarterback and his cronies. It was this act that both bound them and came to define them for the rest of their lives. And since this is King, Duddits is extraordinarily gifted, paranormally so. Though we don’t fully come to realize how gifted until close to the end of the novel.

We’re also introduced to the characters’ extrasensory powers. Jonesy, a college history professor, can sense when students are cheating. Pete, a car salesman, has an almost supernatural ability to find lost objects and retrace a person’s steps. Beaver, a construction worker, has an unnatural ability to soothe. Lastly, Henry, an accomplished (though suicidal) psychiatrist, can sense the truth of his patients almost to the point of mind reading.

These friends embark on the last hunting trip of their lives without realizing its significance when, BAM! They’re thrust right in the middle of an alien invasion and the fight of their lives. This alien invasion is one part X-Files and one part medical experiment gone wrong. There is an alien fungus, called “Ripley” by the military force trying to eradicate it, which turns people into drones for the sentient alien life force. There are also horrible beings called, I kid you not, shit-weasels. These beauties grow in a person’s guts eating through them and causing the most horrible gas imaginable – we’re talking burps and farts from hell, liable to clear out an entire convention center rather than just one measly room. Once the horrible flatulents reach critical mass they expel themselves from the rear end of their host, thereby killing said host.

Now, this isn’t such a horrible premise for an alien invasion. There have certainly been worse. But, the book clearly talks about how these same aliens have been visiting earth for decades testing the waters and planning their attack. Then, they just so happen to touch down with a sad amount of troops, unprepared for a fight, and in an inhospitable environment. And we’re supposed to buy all that? Seems rather convenient… for the author, that is.

The meat of the story centers on a fight between Jonesy and the alien consciousness, Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray has taken over Jonesy’s body and mind, but Jonesy is able to lock himself in a little room inside his mind and protect his awareness from being assimilated, or destroyed, or whatever. The alien is frustrated by this ability since no one has ever presented it with this problem. Mr. Gray is attempting to find a way to infect the world at large with Ripley, and Jonesy is attempting to save himself and possibly the world. The rest of the story hinges on a military force attempting to isolate and clean up the alien threat, and it’s all headed by a singularly maniacal madman named Kurtz.

By far, the best aspect of this book is the representation of Jonesy’s mind. This is accomplished by describing Jonesy’s inner sanctum as a locked office, and outside the office is the largest warehouse imaginable. The warehouse is filled with stacked and labeled boxes which house his memories. He merely needs to think of certain subjects, and suddenly those boxes are stacked neatly outside the door to his office. I would have loved some more exploration in the memory warehouse throughout the book.

The supernatural aspects of the book were interesting. There was a lot of telepathy, and that was fun. I liked the arguments both for and against, and actually spent a bit of time indulging my own fantasies of what life would be like with widespread telepathy being the norm. Duddits, the Down Syndrome friend, has supernatural abilities regarding telepathy and connecting people. In fact, Duddits is so special that he can transfer some of his abilities to others, hence the abilities of his four best pals.

The conclusion wraps up with the typical tropes: humanizing the alien, love conquers all, and mind over matter. It was okay. It was expected. I’m just glad that there was an epilogue rather than ending at the conclusion of the action scene (the cop out of many authors). An actual dreamcatcher made an appearance in the book, but disappointingly so as a bad metaphor.

Overall this book was enjoyable. It wasn’t great, and I wouldn’t recommend it anyone but Stephen King fans. I could have used a lot less of the graphic scenes involving flatulence. I do wish there was more exploration of the friendship of the four protagonists. I also wish there was more exploration of the inside of Jonesy’s mind. So many reviewers have compared this book to It, and I’ve yet to read that novel. I’m now looking forward to it since I hear it’s one of King’s best.