Susan Orlean Thinks You're Fat

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Long before politicians realized their idiotic public gaffes would be indexed forever in YouTube, writers faced a similar but somehow graver problem: ill-advised books published early in their career that stick around on shelves forever to haunt their authors. On Radar Online today, Claire Zulkey catalogues many of those wish-they-were-forgotten titles, hitting many of the greatest hits, like Lynne Cheney's sapphic romp and Scooter Libby's oddly bestial mystery. We were most interested, however, in a less well-known work that made the cut. New Yorker scribes Patricia Marx and Susan Sistrom — that's Susan Orlean to you — apparently once interrupted their careers to author the compelling The Skinny: What Every Skinny Woman Knows About Dieting and Won't Tell You!, which, according to Amazon commenters, is a "sick book by unhealthy women" filled with "tips on self-destruction." We'd love to ascribe this detour to youthful desperation, but the book was published in 1999 — one year after The Orchid Thief and while Marx was firmly ensconced in a career as a novelist and Saturday Night Live writer. The book's money quote? "Eat all you want, but never swallow. Spit always." And to think of all the money Si Newhouse has wasted on their expense accounts.

Read in the Face [Radar Online]