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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wake Up, I'm Fat!...Review

About the book:
You already know Camryn Manheim can act. She won the Emmy Award as the don't-mess-with-me attorney Ellenor Frutt on The Practice. Manheim made the ceremony itself entertaining by hoisting her trophy and hollering, "This is for all the fat girls!"

But can she write? Yes. This memoir is by turns funny ("If Barbie were a real woman, she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions") and excruciating. It helps that the material was honed in a one-woman show that sold out at New York's big-deal Public Theater, but the subject matter was strange and interesting in the first place. Manheim could not possibly be a less likely candidate for artistic and commercial success on TV. Born Debi Manheim in Peoria, the very metaphor for mainstream culture, Manheim re-created herself as a dozen-earringed California biker chick, a Renaissance Faire wench, a protester who helped drive the Miss California Pageant out of Santa Cruz, and one of 28 actors in America accepted at NYU's exclusive graduate school. In her book, Manheim gets even with her cruel, fat-bashing teachers; credits the director who gave her her first ingenue lead role (Tony Kushner, who cast her in
Fen); and tells how the same temper that got her booted from school and arrested also won her the TV role that made her name.

There's good gossip for drama buffs. Manheim ribs her famous boss David Kelley within an inch of her livelihood; rips into Celeste Holm for cattiness backstage in Clare Boothe Luce's
The Women; and opines that Bridget Fonda, whom she got naked next to in a movie, "could use a sandwich." But it's the private-life stuff that sticks with you. Read her touching, hilarious account of a personal-ad date from hell, and how she got even by picking up the hunky model who plays the Marlboro Man. She is not making this up!

I loved it. A quick, easy read. It is laugh-out-loud funny. Camryn shares her story: how she became an actress and the highs and lows along the way. She's forthright and funny. She doesn't apologize for who she is: a woman who happens to be fat.

What I found so interesting, is the perspective. Often when we meet people, our first reactions aren't that they're skinny or fat, our first reactions are how much we like or don't like them. But to someone with image issues, whatever our "issue" is, is what takes center stage in our minds. We assume that people are looking at us as fat, or they're only seeing the bad hair day or the blemish on our faces. We don't realize that, very often, those things are second place to them. I remember seeing Camryn accept her Emmy, and being surprised when she said, "This is for all the fat girls."

She always comes across as so poised and confident in her interviews, and I wouldn't think that she was nervous walking down the red carpet or that buying clothes could be a mortifying experience. I find myself surprised, but not surprised at her image issues. Her honesty is refreshing and I could connect with her on so many levels.

There is liberal use of the "F" word, so if that is something that normally bothers you, you will find it spread throughout the book.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/08

* * * *

4/5 Stars


  1. I am looking for more meaningful ways to spend my time. I read a few books on my cruise. I was wondering if you have read 'The Secret Life of Bees.' It is next in line for me. I was just wondering if you had read it and liked or disliiked it.

  2. it's been a number of years since i read "Wake Up, I'm Fat!" but i also loved it! Camryn rocks!