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Manstealing for Fat Girlsby Michelle Embree
Synopses & Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Angie is called "Lezzylard" by her classmates. Her best friend Shelby is an out dyke — in a working-class suburb of St. Louis in the 1980s — while the third member of their trio can't shoplift because security guards always fixate on her one enormous breast. Angie's mother is marrying a man with a sleazy mustache who puts up NASCAR posters in the living room while her friend Inez, the school's pot dealer and sometime "beer whore," stands outside convenience stories, pretending to talk on payphones in order to yell things like, "I'm not having your RAPE BABY, DAD! Give me the money for an abortion or I'm gonna have you KILLED!" Inez, it turns out, is also on a diet.
Angie is teased by classmates, then platonically seduced by the prettiest girl in school, who is anorexic and wants to make imaginary grocery lists with her. To top it off, she told fat-baiting Mindy Overton to "just puke up your lunch a kill yourself already," prompting the school's most brutal popular kids to decide she needs to be taken down a notch. Just how is Angie supposed to get though the next two months?
Complete with acid-dealing high schoolers and characters obsessed with FDS "pussy deodorant," Manstealing for Fat Girls takes Mean Girls and makes it scarier and funnier, more political and closer to the bone.
"Angie Neuweather, 16, has it rough: she's fat and sort of slobby; her mom's horrible fianc has just moved into their low-rent apartment; and she's constantly being tortured at school (the kids call her 'Lezzylard'). Spunky girlfriends help Angie weather sophomore year, including Shelby, a spiky-haired, out-of-the-closet lesbian, and Heather, who has just one giant breast. Angie's a little sexually confused herself: she's sort of got a crush on Carrie, an anorexic popular girl, but she also enjoys sexual fantasies that involve penetration by a giant hairy monster. The friendship of two boys — stoner Pike and perky Mantis — motivates her to go on a severe diet, experiment with drugs and attend her first beer party (her mom's so strict that Angie isn't even allowed to wear concealer over her zits). Eventually, she discovers that she's pretty, and when a rival calls her a 'manstealer,' she has an epiphany. As if quotidian existence as a misfit isn't hard enough, Embree adds in a gunrunning subplot and some scenes of real violence. Too many characters muddle the slight plot (though many of them are well drawn), but Embree has crafted a very sharp look at adolescent longing and angst." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The dialogue and social situations, as well as Angie's narration, are astonishingly realistic, and without sensationalizing, Embree writes in frank, explicit language about her teen characters' friendships, insecurities, first sex, and fantasies..." Booklist
"There is the beginning of a much better book here, but readers who identify with the characters' outsider status...probably won't care. Sure to be shoplifted by teen delinquents, but also has a shot at adult cult status." Kirkus Reviews
"Captures the free-fall, occasionally magical hell of being a freak in high school as well as anything I've ever read." Poppy Z. Brite, author of Liquor and Prime
"You could say that Michelle Embree's writing is 'fierce' or 'honest' or 'gritty'...or you could just cut the bullshit and say that it's really fucking good. This is the new Paula Danziger." Zoe Trope, author of Please Don't Kill the Freshman
"Michelle Embree prods the messy, bleeding heart of the teenage wasteland, bringing us a cast of high school misfits, all way too real and full of the brutal smarts and hilarity possessed by resilient outsider kids. I totally loved it." Michelle Tea, author of Valencia
"Michelle Embree's Manstealing for Fat Girls just might be the love child of John Waters and John Hughes. A wickedly brilliant debut that captures picture-perfect the horrors of middle-American teen angst." Felicia Luna Lemus, author of Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties
"Michelle Embree is a writer whose eye for detail, ear for dialogue, and feeling for the most complicated human emotions could only have resulted from that equally complicated potion that is compassion, pride, humility and curiosity. I wish there were books like this when I was growing up — books that dealt with issues of class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, both intelligently and unabashedly, within the contemporary culture. Beautifully and honestly written." Michael Turner, author of the Pornographer's Poem
This off-kilter novel centers on three girls who are definitely not part of the in crowd: one's fat, one's a dyke, and one is missing a breast. Nicknamed "Lezzylard" by her classmates, Angie is seduced by the prettiest girl in school, an anorexic who just wants to make imaginary grocery lists. Inez, the school's pot dealer, can't shoplift because security guards are mesmerized by her single enormous breast. Shelby and Angie can't be together, because then everyone will think Angie's only a dyke because she's too fat to get a guy. Manstealing for Fat Girls explodes the locus where patriarchal and class violence intersect, while embracing all that is magical — and dangerous — about adolescence. Set in a working class suburb of St. Louis in the 1980s, the book is replete with music and pop culture references of the era, but the bullying, lunch table treachery, and desperate desire to fit in ring true for every generation.
About the Author
Michelle Embree grew up in a working-class suburb of St. Louis, where she dropped out of high school in the 9th grade. She later obtained her GED and attended small, classically oriented McKendree College where she earned her BA in Sociology and Philosophy. She has published articles on philosophy, media and feminism, as well as the fiction zine A Zillion Chronicles of Near Love. Michelle Embree lives in New Orleans with her beloved Chihuahua-Pomerian mix, Mr. Pickles. Manstealing for Fat Girls is her first novel.
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