"El Huge" reveals how small-town, small-time teens can accomplish Big Ugly Things on their own. "Big Girl" chronicles the media's fascination with the towering anxieties of a sixty-foot tall teen. "The Pill," the collection's previously unpublished centerpiece, celebrates a "miracle cure" for obesity that sends society to a grimly delightful new utopia. "With Such People in It," also new to readers, welcomes us to a brave new world where cowardice is a virtue. "Gone with Gone with the Wind" is a nonfiction analysis of privilege, denial, literary classics, and personal honesty. "Afterimage" is a one-way trip into a VR world that's more "real" than our own. Also included is "Guts," which is about just what its title suggests, as well this volume's characteristically frank and thought-provoking Outspoken Interview.
Philip K. Dick Award winner Elison (The Book of Flora) refracts fatphobia through a dystopian lens in this powerful but repetitive collection of stories and essays about body image. The unflinchingly brutal "Such People in It," which offers a glimpse into a future poverty-ridden and fundamentalist America in which human bodies and relationships are under strictly regimented control, and the poignant "The Pill," about the complicated relationship between a weight loss obsessed mother and her daughter, are both original to this collection. The impact of "The Pill" is lessened slightly by the personal essay "Guts," which comes later in the collection and retreads the same material from a nonfictional perspective. Weaker entries show notably less polish: the biting satire of the title story is delivered with far too heavy a hand, and though the magical realist "El Hug " ends with a bang, it spends too little time getting there. Rounding out the collection is "Sprawling into the Unknown," a whimsical and informative interview with Elison about her life and writing process. Elison's devoted readers and anyone with a love of Atwoodian dystopias should take note.