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Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia [Paperback]

Marya Hornbacher
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia 4.6 out of 5 stars (81)
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Book Description

Jan 1999

A ‘retired career anorexic’ examines herself and her, and our, culture in a masterpiece of confessional literature.

At the age of four Marya Hornbacher looked in a mirror and decided she was fat. At nine, she was bulimic. At twelve, she was anorexic. By the time she was eighteen, she’d been hospitalized five times, once in the loony bin. Her doctors and her parents had given up on her; they were watching her die. But Marya decided to live. Four years on, now 22, here is her harrowing tale, powerfully told in a virtuoso mix of memoir, cultural criticism and psychological examination.

Here is the amazingly articulate fury of a clever woman made stupid by her culture, who threw away her teenage years in a continuous cycle of bingeing and vomiting or just plain starvation.

The first book to explore, from the inside, the intimate relationship between eating disorders and 1990s culture’s historically unprecedented obsession with body, diet and gender; not a testimony to a miracle cure, but the story of one woman’s travels to the darker side of reality, and her decision to find her way back, on her own terms.

‘Hornbacher is articulate, clever, and has all the persuasive zeal of a convert, furious at the pressures that made her what she was. Paradoxically, her painful journey is also gripping and…dare one say it….entertaining in a way that no fiction could ever be. A compulsive read.’ Publishing News; ‘A gritty unflinching look at eating disorders written from the raw disintegrated centre of young pain with stark candour and power.’ New York Times
• The slimming industry is worth £1billion in GB alone
• The UK has 3.5 million anorexics and bulimics

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st HarperPerennial Ed edition (Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060930934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060930936
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 913,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Publisher

excerpts from the British reviews
‘A heart-rending memoir’ Elle

‘A stunningly original and beautifully written book gouging deep into a gruesome subject which, by comparison, other writers have merely flirted with.’ KATIE CAMPBELL, Evening Standard

‘This factual account of a 23-year old’s experience of anorexia and bulimia is not just another confessional. It has not been written as an act of therapy or for financial gain. It is a prose poem. This does not detract from its painful force nor from the author’s searing intelligence (one has to keep reminding oneself that she is only 23) but rather adds to the force of her communication…Through a mixture of horrific autobiography, medical anecdotes and quotes from Nietzsche, Plath, Emily Dickinson and Lewis Carroll, she tries to tell you what suffering from anorexia is like. At every stage in the story of her illness she pulls to pieces the thought processes that justify starving herself to death. Like Plath she writes with a metaphoric intensity which at times seems tragically indistinguishable from the power of her drive to self-destruct. Her brutal honesty as to why it happened to her – family culture, low self-worth, did she just come out that way? – and her lack of special pleading, only adds to the essential pain of the book. If you want to understand anorexia, read this book.’ ALICE THOMPSON, Scotsman

‘The mind of Hornbacher is sharper than were her collar-bones when she weighed 4 stone, was given a week to live, and suddenly decided not to die. It is her 23-year-old body that was wasted by fourteen years of anorexia and bulimia. Her true story is painfully honest, analytical, complex and sad: compulsive reading.’ Harpers & Queen

‘A brilliantly moving memoir’ TOBIAS JONES, Frank

‘What marks Wasted out is the quality of the voice. Hornbacher is, simply, a good writer. Her gift for description makes even the familiar aspects of the phenomenon newly real. She is coolly vivid on the sheer violence of anorexia, correcting any misconception that it’s a passive disease; it is rather ‘a no-holds-barred attack on your flesh’. There’s an edge to her prose capturing the wildness of her eventual starved mania…successfully catching a young woman’s desperate desire to counter the cultural voice that tells her she’s "too much, too much, too much". Wasted will be of value not only to fellow sufferers: any woman who has ever been made gleeful by the diminishing of her physical self will gain from reading this painful and sharp-boned account.’ SYLVIA BROWNRIGG, Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

'WASTED' Marya Hornbacher
Coming back from an addiction to starvation
"I would do anything to keep people from going where
I went. This book was the only thing I could think of."

"A stunning original and beautifully written book gouging deep into a gruesome subject which, by comparison, other writers have merely flirted with."
KATIE CAMPBELL, 'Evening Standard'

"This factual account of a 23-year-old's experience of anorexia and bulimia is not just another confessional. It has not been written as an act of therapy or for financial gain. It is a prose poem. This does not detract from its painful force nor from the author's searing intelligence (one has to keep reminding oneself that she is only 23) but rather adds to the force of her communication …Like Plath she writes with a metaphoric intensity which at times seems tragically indistinguishable from the power of her drive to self-destruct. Her brutal honesty and her lack of special pleading, only adds to the essential pain of the book. If you want to understand anorexia, read this book."
ALICE THOMPSON, 'The Scotsman'

"The mind of Hornbacher is sharper than were her collar-bones when she weighed 4 stone, was given a week to live, and suddenly decided not to die. It is her 23-year-old body that was wasted by 14 years of anorexia and bulimia. Her true story is painfully honest, analytical, complex and sad: compulsive reading."
'Harpers & Queen'

"A brilliant moving memoir"
TOBIAS JONES, 'Frank'

"What marks 'WASTED' out is the quality of the voice. Hornbacher is, simply, a good writer. Her gift for description makes even the familiar aspects of the phenomenon newly real. She is coolly vivid on the sheer violence of anorexia. There's an edge to her prose …successfully catching a young woman's desperate desire to counter the cultural voice that tells her she's "too much, too much, too much." 'WASTED' will be of value not only to fellow sufferers: any woman who has ever been made to feel gleeful by the diminishing of her physical self will gain from reading this painful and sharp-boned account."
SYLVIA BROWNRIGG, 'Guardian'

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was that simple: One minute I was your average nine-year-old, shorts and a T-shirt and long brown braids, sitting in the yellow kitchen, watching Brady Bunch reruns, munching on a bag of Fritos, scratching the dog with my foot. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, incisive and ultimately terrifying 22 Feb 2000
Format:Paperback
You can read many accounts of Eating Disorders, but this one has to be one of the most disturbing, well written and incisive. Marya writes clearly and without self-pity, about the start of her disease, when she is young and bulimic, until the climax of anorexia when she enters into a disturbing account of severe mental illness. She never explains why she got the disease, probably because she can't explain it to herself, but her description of her state of mind and the people around her's reaction to her disease is brilliant. She says she wants to write this book to stop other people going down the same route. I have no doubt she will succeed, because this book is horrific and terrifying. She adds information from supposed experts into the book, and quite often mocks therapists who have no idea about her illness, so together with her honest self-analysis it makes for an educational read. Don't expect any answers or miracle cures however. The quality of her writing is high, and I'm sure any book by her is well worth the read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything an eating disordered person thinks 27 April 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read 'Wasted' in one day, once i had picked it up, it was actually impossible for me to leave it. It is one of those books where opening it at any page offers you compulsive reading, and it is true to say that Hornbacher offers a very frank and blunt view of something that, instrinctly, is very complicated. The book did almost inspire me, however, and i do not believe that her desire to help others and stop them from doing what she did, is fulfiled. Having already suffered from bulemia for a year before reading, i found the book full of new ideas, lies and ways of keeping the lifestyle i had, maintained. This is clearly unintentional, but the descriptions of emotion, power, simplicity, ease and almost the glamourisation of the eating disordered existence, would intrigue even those who had never considered it before. I am certainly not advising anyone to miss out on this book, it is an amazing read, words cannot explain how capturing it is until you actually pick it up, but i am advising people to be careful about what they take from it. My congratualtions do go out to Marya Hornbacher for finding exactly the right words for feelings, actions and emotions for things that only people who suffer like her would understand, and so far, i was unable to find. The connection you can make with what she is saying is formidable, amazing, and shocking in some parts because you really believe your the only one fighting and suffering. Marya Hornbacher shows you brutally how wrong you were. An excellent read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
There really is no need for me to describe the contents of this brilliant book as it has already been done very well by the reviewers before me, but I do think that even though it's been almost 10 years since publication, this book is still as relevent now (if not more so) than when it was written.

There seems so be a disturbing trend at the moment for people in the public eye to 'confess' to have suffered from eating disorders at one time or another, making it sound as though an E.D. is almost a fashion statement. Not only does this help in trivialising what can often be a fatal illness, but makes it seem somehow glamorous.

Believe me, there's nothing glamorous about destroying your body and slowly killing yourself. And 'Wasted' illustrated this perfectly, describing just how awful a full-blown E.D. really is. It describes how an eating disorder isn't something to play around with, something to 'try out for a few days', it isn't a 'diet that's gone a bit overboard', a weightloss plan. What it is though, is something which controls your entire body and mind- and it's scary.

And if you have no interest in eating disorders? Well you should read this book anyway as it is probably the best piece of writing I have ever read.

5/5
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So true... 12 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Ive just finished this book and it shocked me how well the Hornbacher decribes eating disorders. I have suffered with a combination of bulimia and to a lesser extent, anorexia for years. There is no other way to say what it does to you except to say that eating disorders are soul destroying. There are days when I want to curl up and die because I know that there is no easy way out but this book shows that however ill you can become, you can also get through. Wasted is a shockingly honest book. Some may say that Hornbacher is almost encouraging readers to toy with the idea of extreme dieting, but I disagree. She is telling the way it really is. Yes, she was an extreme case but it happens and it is terrifying. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the thought process behind bulimia and anorexia. If you have an eating disorder and want a trigger book or some sort of motivation, dont bother. You wont find it here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compleatly essential 27 Dec 2006
By Chloe
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For anyone who has ever had an eating disorder and for anyone who has not this is one of theose books that is compleatly essential. I read it shortly before I was admitted into an eating disorders clinic. I was extremely ill. Yet despite that fact it really struck hard with me. I would recommend it to anyone that would ever say that an eating disorder is not a serious psychiatric condition. Hornbacher level of self destruction was what I really identified. she was determined to kill herself, it is the most brutally honest book on eating disorders that I have ever read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Bored me!
Read the 1st chapter which was long and it was so boring. I couldn't read any more after that. Would not recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by Miss Hannah
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Superb book would def recommend to all ages provides an in depth insight into eating disorders and their real impact
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashamed to say I did pirate it first, but I thought so much of it that...
I'm not usually one for reading a book BEFORE I buy it, but in this case I did. I thought the book was so thought provoking and touched so close to home that I had to buy it.
Published 2 months ago by Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writer
Marya Hornbacher is such a good writer, she conveys real clarity into the misunderstood world of Anorexia and Bulimia. Read more
Published 4 months ago by M. Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars cold hard reality
Marya said herself that she didnt enjoy writing this book. I'm not sure this is the kind of book anyone "enjoys" reading. It's a cold, hard dose of reality. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amanda Horan
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book but triggering
I have been suffering with an eating disorder since I can remember, and I chose this book when I was a young teen as my 'bible', although it can be comforting to know you are not... Read more
Published 10 months ago by kmarshall9
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing, brilliant true story
Insightful, sad, gripping, raw account of an eating disorder sufferer. I read this in one sitting. Great writing, but even more incredible that this true.
Published 11 months ago by Nina Snyman
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting and compelling.
An interesting account of a woman's life struggling with a common and often misunderstood illness. I love Maryas writing style, i found it to be analytic, compelling and in some... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Millie Ryan-Whittam
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant descriptions
Another book that left me feeling that my eating disorder was somewhat half-hearted. ... Engaging writing. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Natasha Holme
4.0 out of 5 stars Scarily honest
This book is frankly honest about Marya's relationship with food and how that's effected her whole life. Read more
Published 17 months ago by mimday
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