Sarah Saffian
May 02, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Following her courageous 1996 memoir, ”Drinking: A Love Story,” Knapp explores eating disorders with equally unblinking honesty in Appetite: Why Women Want. Knapp, who completed the manuscript shortly before dying of lung cancer last June at age 42, recounts her battle with anorexia in her 20s, deftly interweaving stories of other women’s experiences. Her personal details, as when she recalls slicing a cube of cheese into slivers for dinner, are more compelling than her stale, second-wave feminist theorizing on the dispiriting messages society sends women. Still, Knapp’s prose is so luminous — ”moments of contentment…come in the simplest packages: in a look of love from the dog, a joke shared with a friend, a spark of affection here or understanding there” — that her final book emerges as one of compassion, wisdom, and grace.

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