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Supersize characters in books and literature

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activistfatgirl

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It's my goal over the next few years to read everything I can get my chubby paws on that involves plump to supersize characters in print.

I'm interested where SA messages come out, and how they do; but I'm also interested in negative portrayals of fat folks. As it's much easier to research, write, and talk about fat folks on the smaller end, I'm muchly curious about how we write about supersize people.

While my query will eventually span to all forms of communication and media, what I'm asking right now is best if focused on fiction. Do supersize characters exist in fiction? How are they portrayed? What stories, books, anthologies would you recommend?

(And don't mention Jennifer Weiner, love her, but got her covered).
 

Allie Cat

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In Harry Potter, his cousin Dudley or whatever his name is. Very negative portreyal unfortunately.

There's a bbw character in the book I'm writing, but that's not exactly in print yet :p

I'm an FA artist with too much ambition... that's right I'm..
=Divals
 

ThatFatGirl

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You might want to search old threads because we've definitely covered bbws in books before, though not specifically ssbbws, there may be some mention of them there.

I think in Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone the lead character Delores (had to look that up) gains weight and gets to about ssbbw size. I read it so long ago that I don't remember. What sticks out about this character is that so much of her life is bleak and depressing and of course things get better when she loses weight. I don't remember many SA messages in this book at all. I remember pitying Delores and wanting to yell at her to snap out of it.

Other books with fat characters: Jemima J. by Jane Green (silly story and again, she loses weight to make her life wonderful, but I love several scenes in this book), Inappropriate Men by Stacey Ballis (I just love that the fat chick has lots of sex. This story may have some SA messages.. may reread at some point.)... Fag Hag by Robert Rodi (fat chick obsesses about gay friend, plots his murder in the end - no SA value whatsoever).

I'm jonesing for more bbw books, so I will be checking this thread often. :)
 

comngetmeFA

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Well if you are interested in erotica/romance novels and stories you should go to this website: www.ellorascave.com

this is the 'rubenesque' link:
http://www.ellorascave.com/BookList.asp?Category=Rubenesque

or
Zaftig: Well Rounded Erotica

Other than that, I haven't read too many novels with fat or supersized protagonists. :( The only one that i can remember is Fat:A Love Story. I read this when i was about twelve or thirteen:D
 

Gowelisgi

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Author = Janet Evanovich

I think the series is up to 12 books now -- all of them laugh-out-loud mysteries -- about a lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter.

The character you'll most be interested in is Lula, a former hooker turned file clerk and now also a wannabe bounty hunter, who often rides shotgun to the protagonist, Stephanie Plum. The Lula character starts early in the series... maybe number two or three? (Two for the Dough or Three to get Deadly)

Lula is a SSBBW who has an affinity for spandex, fast food and great shoes. I'm not sure if any one character in these books is given a totally positive or negative spin. Mostly, Evanovich just treats them all as people with their own little quirks.

As a bonus prize to searching for Lula references, you'll also get introduced to Joe "Tongue Like a Lizard" Morelli and "Mmmm-Mmmm Good Bad Boy" Ranger. :eat2: YUM!
 

butch

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Hey activistfatgirl, this topic is near and dear to my heart, both personally and professionally.

As far as fiction is concerned, my favorite book of all time is Two Girls Fat and Thin by Mary Gaitskill. You may be familiar with her work through the film Secretary, which is based on one of her short stories. Warning about TGFAT, it is not a fun read, and focuses on childhood sexual abuse. But it is remarkably honest about childhood and sex and the ways in which we struggle to connect with each other, but I think it offers a hopeful ending nonetheless.

Also check out A Confederacy of Dunces, St. Burl's Obituary, The Afterlife Diet, and What are you Looking at? The First Fat Fiction Anthology. There's also The Strange History of Suzanne LaFleshe which is an anthology covering over 100 years of US Women writing about fat.

The editors of What are you Looking at? also have a non-fiction anthology called Scoot Over, Skinny which is good, too.

There's a lot more out there, but these are what I can remember easily. I can also point you in the direction of good non-fiction analysis-type stuff if you are planning on doing any research on fat representations in culture/art/society, since it is what I do when I'm able to buckle down and work;)

Can't wait to see what others list.
 

TallFatSue

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Interesting books being mentioned. I'll need to give some of them a try.

For what it's worth, there are two authors I love who are themselves supersize BBW, and I'm glad to see successful fat women in the public eye: Charlaine Harris and Denise Swanson (left to right in photo below). Unfortunately, even though she's a fat woman herself, Charlaine Harris doesn't write about fat acceptance or size issues. On the other hand, Denise Swanson's lead character is a fat woman who is portrayed in a size-positive way, but it's usually only a minor part of her stories, which I suppose is good too because it shows that fat people are people first and fat second. Anyway, just my 2¢.

http://www.CharlaineHarris.com

http://www.DeniseSwanson.com

View attachment Harris-Swanson.jpg
 

Judge_Dre

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Nero Wolfe is an obese detective in a rather popular series of books. I cannot recall if any of them were ever made into films or TV adaptations. If you like mystery fiction, you may like the Nero Wolfe books. Here's a link to a fan club devoted to the character http://www.nerowolfe.org/
 

TallFatSue

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Judge_Dre said:
Nero Wolfe is an obese detective in a rather popular series of books. I cannot recall if any of them were ever made into films or TV adaptations. If you like mystery fiction, you may like the Nero Wolfe books. Here's a link to a fan club devoted to the character http://www.nerowolfe.org/
Say, you're right about Nero Wolfe. I vaguely remember an early 1980s TV series based on him, and I think it ran half a year at the most. Lee Horsley played his sidekick Archie Goodwin and William Conrad played Nero Wolfe.
 

eightyseven

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What about the Augustus Gloop character in Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?" I recall him and his whole family being quite the hefty folks.
 

Friday

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If you want to read a man wax poetic about the attractions of big girls, you should try Spider Robinson's 'Callahan' series. It's not about big girls (it's science fantasy btw) but he happens to be very partial to big girls in real life and not at all about reticent about including his preference in his female main characters. You can pick up the first three books in the series in one volume called The Callahan Chronicles from Amazon, but I rarely see any of these books at the used book store. People seem to either pass them to friends or (in my case) keep them to reread.
 

Moonchild

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Carpe Jugulum is one of the books in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett wherein the protaganist is a young, fat witch. Through the whole book there is a vampire after her and one of the things he tries to use to convince her to let him bite her and turn her into one is that a diet of blood is high in protein and she would lose the weight quickly but she continues to refuse.
 

EvilPrincess

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Eh... was, well I'll let you be the judge. From reviews I had read, I did not feel it was as funny/inspiring/thoughtful as I was lead to believe. I put it under the category of brain candy.

I will gladly add my copy to your "Fat Collection".


Where Fat Girls Haven't Gone by Staci Backauskas

activistfatgirl - sent you a pm -
 
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I've read one of Katie MacAlister's books, The Corset Diaries. The heroine in the book is a size 18 (as I recall) and accepts her size-- she even gets the guy! MacAlister is very humourous and I think some of her other books portray BBW's in a positive light. I would reccommend her for those of you that enjoy steamy romance novels...
 

Sweet Tooth

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I don't know about SSBBWs, but there are a lot of books out there with BBW characters. Chick Lit Books website has a section dedicated to books with plus-size heroines. And then there are Lynne Murray's mysteries. I like books that give descriptors to indicate a character is fat without telling you *exactly* how fat so you can make her whatever size you want. :)
 

moore2me

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Dear Activist fatgirl,
One of my favorite books written about growing up as a fat girl is Shelia Levine is Dead and Living in New York. It was written by Gale Parent in the 70's and is probably out of print now. Interesting enough, the last time I saw Ms. Parent's name, she was a writer for the Tracy Ullman HBO shows. (I lost my copy and would like to find another one.)
I do remember it is a comedy about a fat girl growing up in a world designed for Twiggy and Barbie. Shelia's mother is after her constantly to lose weight, find a decent boyfriend, and get married.
The book did a lot to help me see society pressures, family pressures and everyday life in a humorous light. It helped me grow up and see some of the unrealistic expectations the world had for me.
 

Wilson Barbers

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Gowelisgi said:
Author = Janet Evanovich

I think the series is up to 12 books now -- all of them laugh-out-loud mysteries -- about a lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter.

The character you'll most be interested in is Lula, a former hooker turned file clerk and now also a wannabe bounty hunter, who often rides shotgun to the protagonist, Stephanie Plum. The Lula character starts early in the series... maybe number two or three? (Two for the Dough or Three to get Deadly)
I just finished one of Evanovich's novels To The Nines, and personally found Lula to be an irritating character: there's a recurring joke in Nines about her being on a diet to become a supermodel, but it's so broadly done (and strongly plays into the old fat people don't realize how much they eat line) that it quickly became unfunny . . .
 

pdgujer148

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Here are a few more books...

"Body of Knowledge" by Carol Dawson.
I read this years ago, so my memory of the plot is cloudy. I remember it being about a 600 pound woman who is isolated in a large mansion. The character's weight becomes thematically tied to her obsession with investigating and cataloging a family tragedy; as if she were a “sin eater".

"Flesh" by David Galef.
A lame acedemic satire about a college professor who is obsessed with flesh and size. The character ends up being smothered by a SSBBW in a face sitting accident. The author comes off a Don DeLillo wannabe.


"Thinner Than Thou" by Kit Reed.

Another satire. Reed imagines a dystopian future where being thin has become a religion. Fat people are carted off to be starved at a religious work farm; anorexic girls are force fed until they are “saved”. Meanwhile, the leader of this movement is secretly force feeding a woman to immobility due to some unresolved oedipal complex.

Sounds like the makings of a savage satire? Not really…just a weak SI/FI novel with well intentioned pretensions. She seems to want to critique a slew of things at once: the religious right, the diet industry, the self-help industry, unnecessary legislation of consensual activities, and media culture. None of it sticks because she never really makes a solid point.

"Body" by Harry Crews
Crews is one of my favorite Southern novelists. Crews writes brutal stories about damaged people, but he does it with a sense of empathy and good will. Think Flannery O’ Connor minus the Catholic guilt.

Body is a dark comedy about professional body building. One of the supporting characters is a 400+ pound woman who falls in love with a body building fat admirer. Quite a few pages are dedicated to this romance; including an extended sex scene. There are a few moments that both fat women and fat admirers could find ignorant or offensive, but the same could be said for some of the stories on the weight board.

Sorry this was so long.
 
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