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October 17, 2006

Book Notes - Michelle Embree ("Manstealing for Fat Girls")

In a year filled with wonderful young adult fiction, Michelle Embree's Manstealing for Fat Girls stands out. Embree's teenage characters, including an overweight girl, an out-of-the closet lesbian, and stoner boys, are all characters we know, and she draws sympathetic (but realistic) portraits of them. I wish I had been assigned this book in high school, this book sits favorably with the other amazing young adult fiction I have read this year: Michelle Tea's Rose of No Man's Land, Frank Portman's King Dork, and Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story.

In her own words, here is Michelle Embree's Book Notes entry for her novel, Manstealing for Fat Girls:

1. ANGIE – The Rolling Stones

Manstealing’s narrator was named after this song. With no money in our coats and no lovin’ in our souls/Can we say we’re satisfied? This makes me wonder if the Angie in this song and her lover would have more time and space to hash out the particulars of their satisfaction if they had some money. Love becomes strained and secondary, sometimes, when finances are tight or impossible. I used the name Angie so I would think about those strains as I wrote.

2. CRAZY TRAIN — Ozzy Osborne

I still get pretty riled up when I hear this song. In the eighties, I would go insane. Ozzy was something punks and the burn outs had in common; Ozzy, weed, beer (though not necessarily in that order). The name OZZY next to a big pot leaf was spray painted on pretty much every available surface. And I don’t think it was really a tagging thing, I think that is just what stoned working-class-suburbia, white-dudes painted on a wall whenever they got the chance.

3. DAYGLO ABORTIONS

The cover of ‘Feed Us a Fetus’ scared the crap out of me. It was a drawing of Ron and Nancy Reagan over a platter of fetus covered with jelly beans. Really something. The content was about offending middle-class values, in the sense that it was just offensive. But, it had some real goodies too, like: I wanna die by suicide/ Because I’m my own god. This band took some frightening, compelling, shape inside my life. It immediately calls up the terrifying confusion of my own adolescence. The simultaneous attraction and repulsion.


4. FLEETWOOD MAC

This band represents the opposite of what Ozzy did for punks and burn outs. This was the point at which aesthetics diverged.


5. GLAD THAT YOU EXIST – The Weakerthans

I played this band a lot while I was writing the book. This song had a big role in the writing of the last scene. This is the song that sums up how Angie and Shelby feel about one another and I listened to it a thousand times while I was editing the last chapter.


see also:

the book's Myspace page

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)

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