Cover image for Forever fat : essays by the Godfather
Forever fat : essays by the Godfather
Gutkind, Lee.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxii, 177 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3557.U88 Z464 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Dubbed--some would say drubbed--the "godfather behind creative nonfiction" by Vanity Fair , Lee Gutkind takes the opportunity of these essays, and the rich material of his own life, to define, defend, and further expand the genre he has done so much to shape. The result is an explosive and hilarious memoir of Gutkind's colorful life as a motorcyclist, a medical insider, a sailor, a college professor, an over-aged insecure father, and a literary whipping boy. In Forever Fat Gutkind battles his weight, his ex-wives, his father, his rabbi, his psychiatrist, and his critics in a lifelong cross-country, cross-cultural search for stability and identity. And from Gutkind's battles, the reader emerges a winner, treated to a sometimes poignant, sometimes harrowing, sometimes uproarious, and always engrossing story of the simultaneous awakening of a man and his mission, and of the constant struggle, in literature and in life, to sort out memory and imagination. Here, enacted in technicolor terms, is the universal, symbolic truth that no matter how far you travel, over how many years, you will never completely shed the weighty baggage of adolescence. Yet, as Gutkind proves again and again, he has learned to describe his burden with an ever-lightening brilliance.

Author Notes

Lee Gutkind is the founder and editor of the journal Creative Nonfiction . The author and editor of a dozen books, including the award-winning Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation , he is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and the director of the Mid-Atlantic Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference at Goucher College.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The godfather in question is the author, who was credited as a major advocate of "creative nonfiction" in an uncomplimentary Vanity Fair article six years ago by James Wolcott, who criticized this emerging field of writing. The founder of the journal Creative Nonfiction, Gutkind has published widely in the field (Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation) and is also a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. This collection of beautifully crafted personal essays, previously published in various periodicals, demonstrates the author's mastery over his chosen genre. Always engrossing, the pieces convey emotional pain leavened with humor and are written with piercing honesty. Several deal with Gutkind's relationship with his father, Jack, who beat and belittled him. In "A History of My Father," he discusses his reaction to a letter he received from Jack that describes his own equally horrible childhood. With astonishing clarity, Gutkind expresses understanding, but not an acceptance of his father's cruelty toward him when he was growing up. "Waiting Away" is a witty and angry article about the incompetence of a physician. The title essay explains how the author needed the solace he found in food when he was a child, even though it led to ridicule because he was a fat kid. During basic training in the Coast Guard, he found the motivation to lose weight and define a new self-image based on independence and a positive direction for his life. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gutkind (English, Univ. of Pittsburgh), whom Vanity Fair once called the "godfather behind creative nonfiction," has put together a collection of essays whose form, style, and topics further redefine the genre. The collection opens with a credolike introductory essay that is followed by a series of somewhat formulaic pieces touching upon a range of experiences, such as the author's painful relationships with his parents, his two ex-wives, his son, his various acquaintances and colleagues, and those he meets on his adventurous travels through America. This master of the form doesn't merely describe the mundane, however. Instead, he transforms it into an eternal truth about life that is applicable to anyone. With Gutkind ultimately emerging as a more understanding person, readers benefit from the realization that the process of learning is both humorous and traumatic. Gutkind recounts his past experiences with clarity and wisdom. Recommended for any composition course as an example of excellent nonfiction writing and for public libraries collecting literary memoir. [This title is part of the publisher's "American Lives" series, which aims to showcase a variety of styles and content in the works of creative nonfiction.-Ed.]-Morris Hounion, New York City Coll. of Tech. Lib., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.