Frances Kuffel

PASSING FOR THIN, EATING ICE CREAM WITH MY DOG and LOVE SICK

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February 25, 2010

Tags: misreading, Angry Fat Girls, blogs, Google alert, Passing for Thin

Among the eighty-two thousands things an author now needs from the web in order to publicize her book is a simple gadget called the Google alert. This alert can be used for any word or phrase one wants. I still get updates on "obesity research" which I relied on while writing ANGRY FAT GIRLS and I get daily updates on "Frances Kuffel".

This alerts have grown more necessary each year because so much is being written exclusively on the web. Despite getting a lot of updates on how my books are selling on eBay, I'm also clued in to what people are saying about my writing in blogs.

Sometimes it's not pretty.

Sometimes I have to respond, as creepy as that makes me feel.

One such blog drifted on to my radar this week. I think the real problem the writer had with the book was actually with me. It's Okay to not like me. I don't like a lot of memoirists and the ones I do, I'm scared of. However, if I was going to blog about a memoir I didn't like, I would at least check my facts.

Bloggetta scoffed at how small incidents like being yelled at when my dog jumped and barked at a man who startled her can start me on a binge. I can certainly see that most people would not gain weight over such a moment but a slightly closer reading of the book would have reminded her that I suffer from depression combined with social anxiety and that one of the things that really finished off my weight gain was realizing I had been willfully ignorant about the options I had in dealing with my abusive boss.

Obviously, someone who couldn't tell her boss not to twist her nose is going to be sort of a weenie. Part of the book is about my struggle not to be such a weenie.

Nor could Bloggetta understand why being fired, with a severance package, from a bad workplace could jeopardize my thinnosity.

What are the three things considered most stressful in life? Death, moving and job change. Job loss IS job change, and I had truly identified myself as a literary agent so much that it was difficult to find another meaning in my life -- despite the fact that I was ten months away from publishing Passing for Thin. I hadn't made the transition to being a writer.

I'm venting here because Bloggetta posts on a site that allows less response than a fortune cookie. Still, I think a slightly more sensitive reading would have revealed to her that this fat lady, for one, has to factor depression into any equation. She would also have remembered that I lived in self-blame for not having defended myself in that job, or with the guy who verbally abused me over Daisy's misbehavior.

And Daisy was OF COURSE on leash, Bloggetta -- a point you really got wrong.

I often respond to thank blog writers for taking the time to read my work. If the review is simply nasty (go look at Amazon comments on PFT if you want to know what it's like to be publicly disliked for perceived venalities), I let it go. But when it's wrong, either in fact (Daisy off leash on a busy Brooklyn Street? I don't think so) or in spirit (hadn't I described how hard it is for me to identify what emotion my reaction is and how to properly express it?), I have to respond.

Because along with Google alerts, the Web is becoming the end-all of publicity. A couple of years ago, Blogalina might have read a review in the Post and decided to read the book but now it's more likely she'll read Bloggetta's take and decide to give the book a skip.

For someone who has a hard time standing up for herself, I sure have to do a lot of it lately.

Comments

  1. February 25, 2010 4:57 PM EST
    I think, if one is going to post a review of a book on a blog, that the same effort should be put into it that would be put into said review if it were going in the Times. Blogs are available to everyone - which can't be said of coveted NYT bylines - but I don't think that obviates the need for a blogger to actually know what he or she is talking about. This particular blogger sounds as though she doesn't. I *did* read the book, and the reason for the emotional impact of the dog-barking incident was made very clear. I found it to be one of the most moving parts of the book, in fact, as it clearly delineated a major breakthrough in your awareness of your how your psychology was playing into your food addiction. Possibly Bloggetta has never had such a breakthrough herself - or breakdown, for that matter - and so cannot comprehend how it might happen. I still don't think that excuses her inaccuracy. Grr.
    - Valerie
  2. February 25, 2010 6:12 PM EST
    I'm in the process of reading "Angry Fat Girls" and because of that I watched an interview of you on youtube. So far I love the book, it's honesty especially, as there are so many posers in the media. I love your sweet spirit, and you're easy to love for who you are, not what people think you should be or look like. I've so much more to say, but I'll do so when I've finished the book. I can relate to a lot you have had/do have to deal with, but not quite the cruelty you've had to experience. This too I'll explain later. For now I'm in awe!
    - Dave Rogg Sr
  3. February 25, 2010 8:49 PM EST
    Thank you for answering back to Blogaletta!
    - Winkie
  4. March 3, 2010 3:33 PM EST
    I just found out about your book and decided to visit your website...honestly I think people who don't struggle with emotional eating have no clue how difficult it is...as you said, even being able to identify the emotions we're feeling is sometimes beyond us.

    Goodness, I've lost huge amounts of weight, thought I'd dealt with all of my issues (now I'm not even sure that's possible) and then found myself resorting to the same old patterns of behavior. I appreciate your honest look at this, am looking forward to reading more of your blogs and am heading over to Amazon right now to order your book.

    - Patti
  5. March 4, 2010 4:27 PM EST
    Hi Frances,

    I'm a blogger and editor at a website called Everyday Health (we're right down the road from you in DUMBO), and I posted a review of Angry Fat Girls this week. The reader responses have generally been very positive so far.

    Here's the link: http://www.everydayhealth.com/blog/health-in-your-40s/are-you-an-angry-fat-girl/

    - Amy
  6. March 11, 2010 12:56 PM EST
    I finished "Angry Fat Girls" and it's that kind of honesty that can help bring compassion and understanding to a people/subject misunderstood. A quote from Cynthia, in the book, that struck me was, "Do I ever get to live a normal life where I don't worry about what I get to eat or how much I exercise?" I can so relate to that. Having been overweight my entire life, except for the time I lost a lot and bought a suit for a wedding, only to give it away shortly after that due to gaining the weight back, I continue to fight the battle that I haven't won. My dad, now deceased, would make reference to my weight and tell me how I needed to exercise. Funny, but when he retired he gained a good amount of pounds, which didn't seem to be an issue for him, however. Oh, and I was born severely crippled, had many surgeries, and had to take disability retirement after many years of painful, physical employment, due to the lack of knowledge on how to correct my feet. Anyway, I've taken on the challenge to see where it takes my "fat" life. I'm praying each day that God will help me to execute the following prompt...enjoy the food I eat, but not eat food BECAUSE I enjoy it. It's helping, but I have a way to go before I live the "normal" life Cynthia craves. So, in closing, I want the AFGs to know there are others who can relate - men as well - and we're in the battle together. Don't give up, dear ladies!
    Dave Rogg Sr
    - Dave Rogg Sr
  7. April 1, 2010 12:07 AM EDT
    Frances - Noticed your AFG last month amongst a huge amount of new/recent releases in my superb library in Marco Is. FL. I picked out your book, from several hundred on the shelves, because the cover design and title totally caught my attention...and because I have a morbidly obese sister , 60 years old and 9 years my junior. I thought the book might in some way help me know her better.

    Well, I have been so emotionally and intellectually charged by reading both your books. (Learned of PFT while engrossed in AFG; wish, in a way, that I had read them in "order".) I have such a better understanding of my sister's emotional turmoil commencing from the time she was about 4 yrs old, when the family probably started commenting on her weight. She grew up in her biological family wherein her parents, 2 sisters and brother, and all extended family members through the next 50 plus years, as well as her two daughters and husband, have been of average weight and build.

    She was bulemic and alcoholic until her 30's; very high IQ but an underachiever; depressed with little motivation. She recently had a nervous breakdown.

    Anyway, I admire and like you so much. I liked that gal in PFT, too. She was (past tense?) gutsy, fun, irreverent. I do hope you write another book, soon. And it doesn't have to be about weight; just about what you do and think about.

    And your niece - the birthday present? My youngest sister, and my best friend, was born 2 wks after my 12th birthday and made my life so happy. But I had never before thought of her birth as being the greatest birthday present ever, until you made that connection re Lisa. Thanks.

    A thought I had while reading your books: I wanted to share with you about what I have done in my 69 years to maintain my 120-145 wts. as a 5'4" adult. Like taking diet pills, marrying 2 serial adulterers whose behaviors caused me to be so knotted up with pain that I couldn't eat. And I drank...too much; and joined AA in 1980 and stayed abstinent for 14 years.
    Anyway, I enjoyed reading about your time in OA; I loved AA and bought into everything about the program then and, really, still do. It saved my life and let me be a parent to my 2 sons.

    Cheers, and do write some more books. JHG
    - Judy Hindley Guider
  8. July 23, 2010 2:45 PM EDT
    "Part of the book is about my struggle not to be such a weenie." Please teach me how to be less of a weenie, I get upset about all those things and minor stuff. Are there people out there that don't get upset? Are they insensitive and egocentric or are they better adjusted than the rest of us?
    - Joanna
  9. March 20, 2011 4:13 PM EDT
    blogetta is a moron frances. *I* love you...as do 98% of the rest of the AFG's....we all need to learn to blow off the morons of this world. maybe someday one of us will figure it out and teach the rest of us!
    - sandiemac
  10. April 14, 2011 3:28 PM EDT
    Frances: I'd like to interview you for my blog someday. We are an odd lot of weight-loss maintainers and size acceptance proponents (yes, we get along okay, and I think you're one of a handful of people who would "get" that). Go wander around it a bit, www.justmaintaining.com, and get back with me by email, if you think chatting would be fun or interesting.
    - DebraSY
  11. February 6, 2012 6:52 PM EST
    Right on Frances!! People who blog about a book they haven't read...well, besides being lazy, there are other words to describe them which I'll leave to the imagaination. I just finished reading Passing For Thin, and I loved it!! I hated the assholes that you dated, I wished you would have told them off, or at least give me their phone number and I'll tell them off for both of us LOL!!! Hurray for you losing all that weight! and best luck to you in your future! When will your new book be out? Kudos to you!
    - Bonnie Douglas
  12. June 1, 2012 9:15 AM EDT
    hi frances,
    i wasnt sure where else to post but i wanted to say thanks for your book. My friend K and I are probably what would be considered normal size but we still fluctuate 15 pounds up and down, and i saw many of our behaviors in your book. We each have our own journey so i dont think that we should catagorize someone as too fat or not fat enough to have a problem. In my own view a lot of the problems you and your friends in the book are facing are from our brainwashing advertising and tv. It exists only to sell you those products and foods you dont need. You will find more freedom if you are able to shut if off completely. I also highly recommend eating whole foods from the earth and walking barefoot on the earth. A lot of the problems, are in my opinion, because we have lost our natural connection with the earth. Thanks for letting me say my 2 cents and thanks again for a thought provoking book.
    tara golden
    - tara golden

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