0 Family Matters Christopher Matthew (Hodder £9.95) Five years have elapsed since Simon Crisp. Pooter de nos jours and the Pepys of Yuppiedom. granted us the privilege ofa glimpse of his private journal. Much has happened in the interim - ’the Falklands War. my marriage to Belinda. the rise of Melvyn Bragg‘ — but as he awaits the birth ofhis first child he realises (‘like Winston in 1940') that his whole life has been but ‘a preparation for this moment!‘ 0 The Best Short Stories of Ring Lardner (Picador £4.95) Slick. slangy. sporting stories from one of America‘s top writers whose first popular success. the novel You Knew Me All. long pre-dated Paul Simon. This collection includes the striped-pole classic ‘Haircut‘. ‘Some Like Them Cold‘. and the most perfectly pitched baseball prose you‘re likely to see.
0 An Indian Summeriames Cameron (Penguin £3.95) A wise and tough look by the renowned journalist at a country which he had ‘perversely‘ loved for a long time. now viewed uniquely through the eyes of a Westerner married to an Indian woman.
0 Barrier Island John D. MacDonald (Hodder £9.95) Valedictory thriller from the creator ofTravis McGhee redolent ofsmall town corruption and real-estate jiggery-pokery. Not vintage but not far off.
0 Bang to Rights and Banana Boy Frank Norman (Hogarth £3.95 each) Doubly welcome reissue of the two-part autobiography by one of Soho‘s favourite sons and the author of Fings Ain't W01 They Used T’Be. Both offer an insider‘s expose of life in two of Britain‘s most cherished institutions: Dr Barnardo‘s homes and Her Majesty‘s Prisons. The latter seems more congenial than the former. Writers as diverse as Jeffrey Bernard and Stephen Spender testify to Norman‘s niceness as do the books
0 Historic Houses of Edinburgh Joyce M. Wallace (John Donald £6.50) Fascinating Who‘s Who of buildings
in and around Edinburgh. from tourist trampled favourites to those tucked off the well-hacked track. Generously illustrated. though the photographs are poorly reproduced. and a few maps would have been helpful. Ideal for visitors but worth browsing through however well you might think you know the city — but
A PROBLEM OF SIZE
Hunger Strike, Susie Orbach (Faber £2.95) ‘In the language of women’s experience,‘ says Susie Orbach “‘l wantto change myself, so I’ll change
'my body’", is a commonality. In both
her books, Fat Is A Feminist Issue (FIFI for short) and Hunger Strike, recently published in paperback, she suggests control of the female body is not something that resides with its owner. If is an area to be contested, and therefore for many women, the designated area of struggle.
The accepted norm of slimming does nothing to address its philosophy, something she challenged in FlFl. She acknowledged the existence of a huge industry dependent on maintaining the notion that forwomen their bodies are not to be trusted and need constant vigilance and supervision. The manufacturers insist on the fallibility of nature and the necessity of their product. One becomes convinced. ‘For a price,‘ writes Susie Orbach, ’we are offered our bodies back, although on different terms.‘
It is within this wider contemporary picture that she discusses the very specific problem of anorexia nervosa, in Hunger Strike. Herthesis is the result of her own experience of working as a therapist rather than speculation, and the book is almost exclusively about the experience of women. It suggests that force-feeding the anorectic negates her protest and unwittingly denies the meaning of the symptom. Hunger Strike is an attempt to decipher meaning and validate the Issues.
brush up on your skewputs and finials.
0 Divided Loyalties Anne Phillips (Virago £5.50) An unfortunate air of ridicule and confusion currently lingers around the word ‘feminism‘. The ridicule is largely perpetrated by media caricatures and extremism. but the confusion. argues Phillips. arises from a crystallization of historical precedents in the women‘s movement. In Divided Loyalties she traces the weighting ofdifferent feminist issues back through the last four hundred years and thereby indicates the divisions. Priorities of campaigners have generally differed because ofclass. In the 18th and 19th
For the anorectic, she writes ‘seIf-esteem is chronically absent.‘ There is no confidence with the raw material of oneself and the anorectic ruthlessly sets out to change herself, to win self-respect and there is a desperate sense of urgency perceived in creating a new self. This will not of course eliminatethe original discomfort, but it will change its focus. To get back to these original sources can, Susie Orbach acknowledges, take years. ‘They have never been allowed to have whatever their pain and distress is about,’ she told me. She
' ‘relentless pursuit ofthinness'
because thinness equals denial. The
; gains that arise from the denial per se, i and the sense of achievement are what matter. The thinness is justvisible
centuries. the right to work was the main middle-class issue. alongside the right to vote. This clearly co-existed unhappin with the fact that working-class women laboured out of necessity. not out of inclination. and suffered low pay. long hours and harsh conditions. A polarity between married and single women also emerged. By the l92()s and 193(ls. priority was given to the role of women as mothers. thus rendering the rights ofwomen as workers a lesser and incresingly silent notion.
The resistance oftrade unionism and the Labour Party to the women‘s movement becomes a big bone of contention in the penultimate section of the book. which reveals a
also writes and teaches therapy to others and would, she admits, find it ‘a helluva strain’ if she were a full time therapist. ‘You have to absorb an amount of pain.’
Interestingly, anorexia, the so-called
emerges as being important, but only
proof of success. At stake are much deeper concerns, gaining access to acceptibility, wrestling with unentitlement, being in control of one’s life and becoming needless. Are there then parallels with other symptoms? ‘Sure. Different psychological symptoms are chosen for difterent reasons. In drug addiction there are very strong psychological parallels, in the secrecy, the hidden language, the private preoccupations.’ A ‘symptom switch’ from alcoholism to bulimia (making oneself sick after eating), from anorexia to heroin addiction and from eating problems to phobic responses have all been frequently observed in the course of her and her colleagues‘ work.
The book is a fascinating account of an involuntary symptom, intelligently argued, and which does not overlook the difficulties from an analyst herself. It is also very compassionate. She writes, for example, that the well-known secrecy encountered among anorectics stems partly from ‘the shame of being involved on an almost full-time basis in making oneself into an acceptable person.‘ (Sally Klnnes)
The List 6 — 19 February 41