This is a really good book. It’s difficult to say that I enjoyed reading it because it’s an extremely sensitive topic, thought one that deserves more attention than it has been getting. Sadly, though I feel that this is an important book, I don’t think that it will be as well-circulated as it needs to be.
A Trick of the Light addresses male anorexia. It is told from the point of view of Mike’s disease, who whispers in his ear as if it is his best friend. Rather than desiring good for Mike, however, the disease tells him to make friends with a girl who worships anorexia as a goddess, forces him to stop eating and to feel guilty when he does eat, and teaches him tricks for fooling his parents into believing he is getting calories that he isn’t. Mike also runs, a lot. He quickly goes from being overweight and self-conscious to underweight and severely unhealthy. He pushes away his family and his former best friend because his disease tells him that they do not want the best for him.
The downward spiral that Mike takes is quick and painful. It’s a short book that reads quickly, but the subject is so incredibly sad. Though it does turn itself around eventually, with a lot of reluctance on Mike’s part, it’s a scary display of how this disease can totally distort one’s view of reality. Metzger does well to address this disease in men, as people may forget that men also suffer from societal pressures in regards to their looks, and not all can rise above it in healthy ways.
It’s not a book I’d say I loved. I can’t say I’d pull it off the shelf and recommend it to someone. It’s more that it feels like something people should read, in order to raise awareness and promote alertness to symptoms of this disease in the men or boys they love. Still, it’s a very well-written and emotional book, and I wouldn’t discourage people from reading it if they thought it sounded interesting. And it is an issue that deserves more attention than it gets.
My reason for reading this novel is an interesting one. One day while strolling the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland I spotted a plastic bag in the grass. Outraged, I stomped over to pick up the litter, but noticed that inside the bag was a book. Happily, I had discovered a Book Crossing free book. It travels around the world, being read and then released to be found again by person after person after person. How cool is that?
So far, Texas is the only other place the book has been outside of Ireland. I haven’t released it yet. Not sure where to do it. I’d like it to be somewhere uniquely Austin, but also somewhere it won’t be misconstrued as litter and thrown away. Perhaps my readers would like to suggest something?
As for the book itself, it was mediocre at best. I can see why people wouldn’t have a hard time letting it go. I know I certainly won’t! A book by Carrie Fisher (of Princess Leia fame), it reads as a fictional autobiography of Fisher’s life. The protagonist spends a stint in rehab and then lives the rest of her Hollywood life attempting to make her big break and to find love. Sadly, the story falls a bit flat. It is disjointed and difficult to follow–a jumble of narrative styles that follow no pattern and therefore make reading more of a chore than a pleasure. The plot is dull and the character is not one I was at all interested in. I wish I had more to say in praise of Fisher’s writing, because it seems that a great many of her ventures have been flops. But she is not a very talented writer, and the only reason I finished the book was to be able to review it and pass it on for the next person to find. Who knows? They may enjoy it more than I did.
I did appreciate the humor in the novel. Fisher portrays well the egotistical and shallow nature of Hollywood by creating characters that are vain and vapid. I also enjoyed the fact that, though it’s a story about a recovering drug addict, it wasn’t incredibly and morbidly depressing. She wrote it so that even the most dire of the addicts’ circumstances were light and humorous. Fortunately, everyone got help and most “lived happily ever after.” Oops! I gave away the ending, but I don’t recommend the book to anyone, so I don’t feel bad!