Judith Moore's unflinching and profoundly disturbing memoir Fat Girl sets a new standard for literature about women and their bodies. ''Narrators of first-person clap-trap like this often greet the reader at the door with moist hugs and complaisant kisses,'' she writes. ''I won't. I will not endear myself. . . . I am not that pleasant.'' Indeed she is not. Moore who describes herself variously as a ''short, squat toad of a woman'' and ''a grotesque and grunting hog'' writes with terrifying, icy candor about a lifetime of venomous self-hatred inextricably tied to her weight.
Abandoned by her father, abused by her selfish (and slender) mother, she was raised as the ''leftovers from a marriage gone bad.'' Equating food with love, she used to sneak into neighbors' houses and devour the contents of their pantries. This fiercely unsentimental autobiography brings to life the clammy isolation of irremediable self-loathing. Reading it is a searing and saddening experience, one you will not easily forget and will not want to repeat.