Why would a talented young woman enter into a torrid affair with hunger, drugs, sex, and death? Through five lengthy hospital stays, endless therapy, and the loss of family, friends, jobs, and all sense of what it means to be "normal," Marya Hornbacher lovingly embraced her anorexia and bulimia -- until a particularly horrifying bout with the disease in college put the romance of wasting away to rest forever. A vivid, honest, and emotionally wrenching memoir, Wasted is the story of one woman's travels to reality's darker side -- and her decision to find her way back on her own terms.
"Eating disorders have the centripetal force of black holes," states Hornbacher, 23, midway through this riveting, startlingly assured account of her bout with anorexia and bulimia, a decade-long struggle that brought her to the brink of death at age 18 and left her with chronic physical ailments. The only child of the troubled union between a former theater director and his actress-turned-school-administrator wife, Hornbacher was bulimic by the age of nine and anorexic by 15, finding in masochistic self-denial a seemingly dependable and quickly indispensable way to control the anxiety that wracked her. Repeatedly hospitalized during high school, she studied briefly at American University while also working as a journalist, until the final crisis, when her weight dropped to 52 pounds and doctors gave her a week to live. Hornbacher's unblinking testimonial has the nuance and vividness of an accomplished novel, and is evenhanded enough to shake the whiff of solipsism that often clings to tales of personal woe. While her fluent prose occasionally seems too off-the-cuff, for all its apparent spontaneity her narrative supplies a wealth of information from varied psychologists and theorists, and she sensitively traces the crazy quilt of overlapping motivations and influences behind her disease. Eating disorders, she argues, are as much a biochemical addiction as a psychological disorder. While rooted in familial dysfunction, generational malaise and our national obsession with feminine thinness, these disorders quickly take on, she says, a life of their own. It is to Hornbacher's credit, and to readers' profit, that she eventually managed to kill the golem that had laid waste to her childhood and teenage years. First serial to New Woman; author tour; dramatic rights: Frances Goldin. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . OMG! This poor girl!
Posted July 13, 2010 by Vicki M , Oregon, OhWhat this girl went though was shocking! And to know that it was at her own hand was even more troubling. Her parents were so indifferent but they also had many problems , it seemed. It just made me sad.
2 . brilliant
Posted January 14, 2010 by Jex , Ontario, CanadaMarya's a fantastic writer. Very insightful, intelligent.
I couldn't put this book down, I would recommend it to anyone and will undoubtedly read it again in the future.
January 31, 2006
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Excerpt from Wasted by Marya Hornbacher
"Well, it's no use your talking about waking him," said Tweedledum, "when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."
"I am real!" said Alice, and began to cry.
"You won't make yourself a bit realer by crying," Tweedledee remarked: "there's nothing to cry about."
"If I wasn't real," Alice said--half laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous--"I shouldn't be able to cry."
"I hope you don't think those are real tears?" Tweedledee interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
--Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
It was that simple: One minute I was your average nine-year-old, shorts and a T-shirt and long brown braids, sitting in the yellow kitchen, watching Brady Bunch reruns, munching on a bag of Fritos, scratching the dog with my foot. The next minute I was walking, in a surreal haze I would later compare to the hum induced by speed, out of the kitchen, down the stairs, into the bathroom, shutting the door, putting the toilet seat up, pulling my braids back with one hand, sticking my first two fingers down my throat, and throwing up until I spat blood.