I raved about Dietland a couple of weeks ago at Bacon and pressed it upon my friend Grace Awh, who was headed to Vienna and Prague and was looking for a good read on the plane. She called me today with a friendly report – and a bone to pick. We agreed on many things about the book, but she had a different take on Plum Kettle, the heroine. “I just didn’t like her,” Grace said. “She didn’t see the goodness in our culture or in anyone around her. She responded to cruelty with cruelty…” As we talked, I began to see Plum anew, through my friend’s eyes. Dietland is in many ways an angry book – that much I had observed for myself (and shared with you, Bacon reader!). It is angry about how women hate their bodies when they aren’t thin enough, and angry about women being treated first and foremost as objects of sexual attention, and angry about businesses that prey upon women’s insecurities. But I had focused on the comic elements through which the anger was expressed. I hadn’t so much considered Plum’s narrowness of spirit. Or the fact that there wasn’t one decent male in the entire book. Or the fact that some of the disturbing sexual content seems – well, maybe gratuitous.
So, I’d like to issue a public addendum. I would still recommend Dietland – see my review! I also think I downplayed something sad – and not to be admired – that beats in the heart of this book. Please tell me when I don’t get it quite right! Or when I get it wrong. Seriously.