L.S. Klepp
January 10, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Eat Fat

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Richard Klein
genre
Cooking/Home

We gave it a B+

Klein’s previous book, Cigarettes Are Sublime, was a tribute to the aesthetic allure and existential paradoxes of smoking. Now he’s done the same favor for fat. Klein points out that the more we idealize thinness, the fatter we get (according to the author, Americans have gotten 10 percent tubbier over the past 12 years). For most of history, plumpness was considered natural and desirable, and Klein thinks we’d be better off if we reverted to a robust, guiltless appreciation of our fatness. Along the way he makes amusing observations about body images, food, language, class, pleasure, and cultural mood shifts (what does it mean when the world-weary gauntness canonized in Gothic and Romantic art has reappeared among our fashion models?). Chapters about diet pills and fat porn don’t offer anything new. But like the Cigarettes book, Eat Fat is genuinely subversive. It undermines the food police — the self-righteous, meddlesome experts who not only know what’s good for us but are determined to shove it down our throats.

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