Short Story Collection: “Fat People”

Fat People: fiction about people who live to eat

Fat People is an entirely unique fictional look at the emotions and experiences of those who live to eat: the estrangement, loneliness, embarrassment, fear, defeated sexuality, unresolved anger, but also the simple pleasure of food.

As a society, we avoid the f-word when, in fact, many of us are Fat People. Diet books, cookbooks and clinical eating disorder books are a significant sector of the publishing industry, but little or no fiction exists to convey the emotional and experiential aspects of obesity, the juxtapositions of pain and sybaritic pleasure that coexist within the person living with an eating disorder or, more simply, with a predilection to overindulge in the pleasures of food. Publishing is laden with epiphany diets and weight loss schemes that form the basis of a largely fraudulent, multi-billion dollar business perpetuated by a 95% failure rate. Fat People will acquaint the reader with people who over eat, their fears, their joys and their sorrows. It will help the reader better understand the complex relationship between the emotional insecurity, the palliative impact of highly refined food and its role in the cycle of addiction. This book is both a personal narrative and a sympathetically observed one.

  • Train Riders: Two fat people riding a commuter train into Manhattan are suddenly pitched together by the cellphone conversation of one of them
  • Baybie Denton: Baybie is blind and lives in a decrepit trailer, eating day-old bakery goods and the restaurant leftovers brought to her by a friend. The daughter sired by her foster father that she gave birth to at thirteen and was taken away for adoption returns to comfort her in recurrent dreams.
  • Dear Diary: A teen writes in her diary of her relationship with her family, her school enemies, her cutting, her ambivalence about sex, her lack of feelings, and her best friend food.
  • Father Bob at the Beach: A morbidly obese priest, urged into treatment by his colleagues, finds a measure of joy and relief when he goes to the beach.
  • In Treatment: A younger patient in an eating disorder clinic who has been in treatment for several weeks is charged with helping a new amylophagic arrival with whom he becomes friends.
  • Harlan and Volney: Harlan’s a recovering drunk and his buddy, Volney, is fat. Harlan suggests he try a twelve step program to lose weight. To Harlan’s dismay, the OA meeting he attends launches an epic binge.
  • Cliff at Deane: Cliff goes off to prep school where, like the other incoming freshmen, he is photographed naked, “posture pictures,” they’re called. The combination of nudity, puberty and hazing do not bode well for Cliff who finds his own solution to losing weight.
  • Dinner Talk: An overeater and an anorexic sit across from one another at a dinner party and exchange glances and interior monologues, followed eventually by a dialogue.
  • Blood and Mayonnaise: Police investigating an accident piece together the forensic evidence to arrive at a conclusion of “distracted driving.”

 

  • Carla Loses Weight: Carla loses weight but doesn’t live to enjoy it.
  • Hunger: An old Eastern coyote dies along the roadside on the outskirts of Boston. A traveler trying to lose weight lands in San Francisco airport and runs a gauntlet of fast food aromas. The two are related.
  • I Survived my Mother’s Affection: A young boy and his mother eat together in bed where he learns to appreciate the palliative effect of food. When she goes on to stronger medicine, he develops a relationship with another woman.
  • Dieting: A young man starts a diet under the supervision of a nutritionist whom he believes likes him. As his diet goes awry, he must find a new friend.
  • A Man of Appetites: Art Plouffe is an active and healthy fat man with many appetites until a change in farm policy changes his traditional way of farming and his relationship to food.

 

Our complex relationship with food surfaces constantly in the news and media as America Sumo wrestles with obesity, malnutrition, hunger, aggressive marketing, and food safety.  First Lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her cause. Oprah Winfrey, who struggles with overeating, regularly explores on air the myths and realities of food obsession. Movies like Precious and Supersize Me and the books of Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food, Daniel Kessler’s The End of Overeating and Eric Schlosser’s, Fast Food Nation, have all called into question, directly or indirectly, the safety and nutritional quality of our industrialized food supply. The US Armed Services now disqualifies 27% of enlistees because of obesity.

Press & Critical Response

“Bill Schubart’s Vermont stories of a mostly-forgotten time and place are fresh, authentic, funny in places and sad in others. He knows his corner of the Green Mountains inside out and writes with honesty and grace about its people.“

– Howard Frank Mosher, author of Disappearances, Mary Blythe, On Kingdom Mountain

“These are fast becoming some of my favorite stories. Bill Schubart captures something of Vermont that many of us barely remember, and others may never experience. Each of The Lamoille Stories is a unique experience — lovingly told, with insight, pathos, and especially humor. You’ll read them again and again.”

–Joseph A. Citro
author of Passing Strange and Cursed in New England

“Bill Schubart’s stories are Vermont’s answer to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: larger than life, triumphantly over-the-top, by turns erudite and savagely, raucously funny. No good soul, no matter how low on the social ladder, is beneath Schubart’s fond notice; no lout, no matter how highly placed, escapes his lacerating wit. People drink in these stories, folks. They drink, and occasionally they damage their homes and cars and boots and lifelong local reputations as a result. But in Schubart’s universe, such things happen, and such people remain loved. Laughed at certainly, but loved just the same.”

– Philip Baruth, Vermont Public Radio commentator and author of The X President.

“The State of Vermont, small as it is, contains many hidden cultural and geographic enclaves virtually unknown to even Vermonters themselves. Bill Schubart, in this collection of stories, sheds light upon French-Canadian loggers and coldwater swamp Yankees; also locals who work for alien summer folks and big-city corporations who don’t realize that, as they peek through the keyhole with amusement at Vermont natives and their idiosyncrasies, the natives are peeking back at them.”

–Willem Lange, writer and commentator