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A 'retired career anorexic' examines herself and her, and our, culture in a masterpiece of confessional literature. At the age of four Marya Hornbacher looked in a mirror and decided she was fat. At nine, she was bulimic. At twelve, she was anorexic. By the time she was eighteen, she'd been hospitalized five times, once in the loony bin. Her doctors and her parents had given up on her; they were watching her die. But Marya decided to live. Four years on, now 22, here is her harrowing tale, powerfully told in a virtuoso mix of memoir, cultural criticism and psychological examination. Here is the amazingly articulate fury of a clever woman made stupid by her culture, who threw away her teenage years in a continuous cycle of bingeing and vomiting or just plain starvation. The first book to explore, from the inside, the intimate relationship between eating disorders and 1990s culture's historically unprecedented obsession with body, diet and gender; not a testimony to a miracle cure, but the story of one woman's travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back, on her own terms. 'Hornbacher is articulate, clever, and has all the persuasive zeal of a convert, furious at the pressures that made her what she was. Paradoxically, her painful journey is also gripping and...dare one say it...entertaining in a way that no fiction could ever be. A compulsive read.' Publishing News; 'A gritty unflinching look at eating disorders written from the raw disintegrated centre of young pain with stark candour and power.' New York Times * The slimming industry is worth GBP1billion in GB alone * The UK has 3.5 million anorexics and bulimics
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UK Kirkus review
A gruesome, eloquent and brutally frank memoir of long-term bulimia and anorexia, and a clear-headed look at its many possible causes. Locked into an increasingly severe eating-disordered lifestyle from the age of nine, the author's life has been dominated by her relentless obsession with feeding, the size of her backside and counting her bones. There are no happy endings. Viewing things from her early twenties, married and a writer, treated but not cured, she is still haunted by her suicidal sickness and its legacy of collapsed veins, arrhythmic heartbeat and drastically reduced life expectancy - but, after countless hospitalizations and finally having starved herself to within a week of death, she is very lucky to be alive. Until recently no-one talked or wrote about eating disorders; now they are out in the open and part of the cultural mainstream. But whether or not they are taken seriously or even widely understood is questionable. This savage and uncompromising book is a reminder that however pointless and narcissistic they might appear from the outside, eating disorders are extremely complex and destructive, and, alarmingly, by no means unusual. (Kirkus UK)
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