Saturday, June 08, 2013

Weighty Matters

Obese characters used to be there for comic relief, but as our waistlines expand fiction writers are starting to take them more seriously. Sarah Stodola weighs the state of obesity in the novel.

From a story in the Daily Beast...

Shriver hits on certain themes that have emerged over the past year, as stepping on a scale in America and around the world has become a more fraught experience than ever and fiction has begun to weigh in. In short, obesity is having a literary moment.

It’s been a long time coming. “Obesity among Americans is a major public health problem that is bound to get worse as the nation eats more and exercises less,” the New York Times reported all the way back in 1966. But even as the obesity rate was rising steadily to its current rate of 35 percent, adding an eventual $190 billion to annual health care costs, our sympathies lagged behind the emerging epidemic. In literature as in life, fat people were still there to be made fun of.
Case in point: the prototypical modern overweight protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly, the antihero of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces and “a slovenly and ranting fatso,” as Alan Friedman described him in his 1980 review for the Times.

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