Saturday, November 12, 2005

Belated Review: I'm Not The New Me

I read this book by Chicago blogger Wendy McClure about six months ago and wrote a review longhand, but I was too wrapped up in writing my own book to transcribe it into ones and zeros.

A "Fine Lines" entry on Eric Zorn's blog piqued my interest, but I had the darnedest time finding I'm Not The New Me at the bookstore. I tried Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Park, just a few miles from McClure's neighborhood. I thought I gave a decent description (just came out, written by a Chicago blogger, memoir about weight loss, not a diet guide), but the clerk had no clue what I was talking about (he even led me to the diet section as I insisted it wasn't a diet guide!). Later that night I found her web site and learned that she was doing a reading at another Barnes & Noble a mile or two away several days later. I'm glad to see the stores communicate so well!

The book was pretty entertaining. Some episodes were hilarious, and although I haven't read her blog, I can see how McClure's writing style would attract and hold many visitors. Since her neighborhood is also my own, I got a kick out of seeing the names of local bars and restaurants in print. And when she mentioned going to a health club that used to be a grocery store, I knew exactly what she was talking about.

One feature of the book that first appeared on the Internet is McClure's critiques of hilariously unappealing Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974 (these are great--you really should check them out). She is planning to publish an entire book of these ghastly meals called The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan : Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s in May 2006. While McClure's discovery of the cards is part of the narrative, the inclusion of the cards themselves seems a little out of place although they may have value as an interest-generator for bookstore browsers (I've shown them to several friends for a laugh, though none were subsequently interested in reading the book).

Ultimately, however, I was disappointed by I'm Not The New Me. First I felt misled by the back cover, which said, "It's wondering what's left of yourself after you lose weight--and just who the hell you are if you gain it back." As someone who has ridden the rollercoaster of weight gain and loss for decades, I was keenly interested in that aspect of the book, especially the second part (I happened to be failing at that moment, though I was winning compared to my current bulbous state). Alas, if it was there, I missed it. My other problem with this book, and I suppose I should have expected it, is that it's the closest thing I've ever read to the genre of "chick lit," particularly in the waning chapters (see a longer review at While I'm not a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal man, that just isn't my thing. In the end, I didn't identify with the author as much as I thought I would, and I felt let down.

Now I'm reading William Leith's The Hungry Years, which seems more up my alley although Leith was both taller and lighter at his heaviest than I am at the moment, which makes me question how big a weight problem he really had.

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