The essays, like her illness are not linear moving from sickness to wellness, but cyclical, moving in and out of the past, pulling us out of crisis where the author currently sits, before plunging us back into the seductive depths of her disorder. As a reader this give us a glimpse of the high and lows of battling a mental disorder that takes such a dramatic toll on the sufferers body. Her's is not the narrative of vanity or a desire to fit into size 8 clothes, nor a work glorifying this awful disease. Her's is a narrative of ambition, perfectionism, striving and the insidious way that anorexia can invade the mind offering hunger as a sedative to more painful emotions.
Interestingly, reading this book I found myself understanding the motivating forces that lead to Wright's illness, though my own disordered eating took the other though possibly parallel path of binge eating. Hunger provided her a freedom from the difficulties and chaos of adult life, while for me a surfeit of food and ensuring weight gain did much the same. Bizarrely, obesity provides as much invisibility and freedom from the chaos of life as Wright's starved body offered her.
Wright's insight into the hunger of fictional characters in the two essays devoted to books is fascinating. The insight into characters and a mental state that to a healthy person is unthinkable, hunger as a desirable state, gives these characters a new dimension and a new reality. They are not tropes or exaggerations, there are men and women walking about every day living that reality.
Long-listed for this year's Stella Prize this is a wonderfully written, evocative work of memoir that you will find hard to put down.