Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

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9780060930936: Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

A ‘retired career anorexic’ examines herself and her, and our, culture in a masterpiece of confessional literature.

At the age of four Marya Hornbacher looked in a mirror and decided she was fat. At nine, she was bulimic. At twelve, she was anorexic. By the time she was eighteen, she’d been hospitalized five times, once in the loony bin. Her doctors and her parents had given up on her; they were watching her die. But Marya decided to live. Four years on, now 22, here is her harrowing tale, powerfully told in a virtuoso mix of memoir, cultural criticism and psychological examination.

Here is the amazingly articulate fury of a clever woman made stupid by her culture, who threw away her teenage years in a continuous cycle of bingeing and vomiting or just plain starvation.

The first book to explore, from the inside, the intimate relationship between eating disorders and 1990s culture’s historically unprecedented obsession with body, diet and gender; not a testimony to a miracle cure, but the story of one woman’s travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back, on her own terms.

‘Hornbacher is articulate, clever, and has all the persuasive zeal of a convert, furious at the pressures that made her what she was. Paradoxically, her painful journey is also gripping and…dare one say it….entertaining in a way that no fiction could ever be. A compulsive read.’ Publishing News; ‘A gritty unflinching look at eating disorders written from the raw disintegrated centre of young pain with stark candour and power.’ New York Times
• The slimming industry is worth £1billion in GB alone
• The UK has 3.5 million anorexics and bulimics

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Review:

A scary but tentatively triumphant memoir....[Told] with grace, sharp humor and candor. --San Francisco Chronicle"

Her book will be value not only to fellow sufferers: Any woman who has ever been made gleeful by the diminishing of her physical self will gain from reading this painful and sharp-boned account. --Newsday"

Hornbacher writes like an artist, shaping her themes without self-pity or self-importance, wondering with intelligence why the dissatisfaction everyone feels with life is so often blamed on the female body. --Village Voice"

Startlingly frank, breathtakingly emotive. --Elle"

Stunning...A tortured-yet-compelling account of a life spent bingeing, purging, and starving...A primal scream of a story sure to resonate even with those who possess a healthy attitude toward food and weight. --Glamour"

Stunning..a tortured-yet-compelling account of a life spent bingeing, purging, and starving..A primal scream of a story sure to resonate even with those who possess a healthy attitude toward food and weight. --Glamour"

This is a terrifically well-written book, completely devoid of self-pity. --Entertainment Weekly"

An unsparing, terrifying, razor-edged self-portrait that cuts right into the heart of this most paradoxical of psychological disorders. --Patricia Chao"

A memoir that resonates with unflinching candor and ironic wit, Wasted is a book that can save lives. The courage that prompted it awes me. Yes, this one is not to be missed. --Dorothy Allison"

Powerful, compelling, intelligent....A memoir that has the tension and movement of a well-paced novel. You simply cannot put Wasted down. --San Diego Union Tribune"

From the Publisher:

excerpts from the British reviews
‘A heart-rending memoir’ Elle

‘A stunningly original and beautifully written book gouging deep into a gruesome subject which, by comparison, other writers have merely flirted with.’ KATIE CAMPBELL, Evening Standard

‘This factual account of a 23-year old’s experience of anorexia and bulimia is not just another confessional. It has not been written as an act of therapy or for financial gain. It is a prose poem. This does not detract from its painful force nor from the author’s searing intelligence (one has to keep reminding oneself that she is only 23) but rather adds to the force of her communication…Through a mixture of horrific autobiography, medical anecdotes and quotes from Nietzsche, Plath, Emily Dickinson and Lewis Carroll, she tries to tell you what suffering from anorexia is like. At every stage in the story of her illness she pulls to pieces the thought processes that justify starving herself to death. Like Plath she writes with a metaphoric intensity which at times seems tragically indistinguishable from the power of her drive to self-destruct. Her brutal honesty as to why it happened to her – family culture, low self-worth, did she just come out that way? – and her lack of special pleading, only adds to the essential pain of the book. If you want to understand anorexia, read this book.’ ALICE THOMPSON, Scotsman

‘The mind of Hornbacher is sharper than were her collar-bones when she weighed 4 stone, was given a week to live, and suddenly decided not to die. It is her 23-year-old body that was wasted by fourteen years of anorexia and bulimia. Her true story is painfully honest, analytical, complex and sad: compulsive reading.’ Harpers & Queen

‘A brilliantly moving memoir’ TOBIAS JONES, Frank

‘What marks Wasted out is the quality of the voice. Hornbacher is, simply, a good writer. Her gift for description makes even the familiar aspects of the phenomenon newly real. She is coolly vivid on the sheer violence of anorexia, correcting any misconception that it’s a passive disease; it is rather ‘a no-holds-barred attack on your flesh’. There’s an edge to her prose capturing the wildness of her eventual starved mania…successfully catching a young woman’s desperate desire to counter the cultural voice that tells her she’s "too much, too much, too much". Wasted will be of value not only to fellow sufferers: any woman who has ever been made gleeful by the diminishing of her physical self will gain from reading this painful and sharp-boned account.’ SYLVIA BROWNRIGG, Guardian

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