July 22 marks five years since Low-Fat Love was released and the Social Fictions series launched. This is so special to me I can hardly find the words. In many ways, I was a different person before Low-Fat Love.
Thoreau wrote that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” But what about women? When I first wrote Low-Fat Love, I was trying to capture a very real but often unspoken phenomenon: how women can at times settle in life and love, pretending what they have is better than it is. I was trying to tap into self-esteem and identity issues through this idea of “low-fat love”– love from others and mostly that we give ourselves that is less than. I was trying to tap into the loneliness and pain that happens as we suffer in isolation from the fear that we aren’t enough. After years of interviewing women about their relationships and identities, teaching courses about popular culture, gender and love, and fighting my own, personal demons, I needed to express these ideas in an uncensored way. Fiction allowed me to do so. Of anything I have ever written, Low-Fat Love is the most raw. I had no idea the chord it would strike in readers. It became a phenomenon. I have never received such an outpouring of personal responses to anything else in my career. It has truly been remarkable. In university hallways, at book signings, and via email, women (and men) have sought me out to tell me their stories of low-fat love. People have whispered in my ears their most personal stories about alcoholism, eating disorders, domestic violence, dissatisfying relationships, low self-esteem and even suicide. Five years later, I still receive letters from readers. Just recently a professor told me about a student who was planning to commit suicide and decided not to after reading the last page of Low-Fat Love. I have no words. I can only tell you that I carry all of these stories in my soul and will for the rest of my life. People have asked me the best compliments I received in response to the novel. Anyone taking the time to read it is compliment enough. A few memorable examples though, the great scholar Bud Goodall read Low-Fat Love while undergoing treatment for cancer, knowing he didn’t have much time left he chose to read it. I stood on a stage and did a joint book reading with creative nonfiction pioneer Lee Gutkind, because of Low-Fat Love. And then there are the women who have emailed me through Facebook and said, “You are my Tori Amos.” No words. Speaking of which, getting to meet Tori backstage and give her a signed copy after the book became a bestseller, was also a life highlight. I will also share that the process of writing the novel was deeply healing for me, and it was only through writing and publishing it that I fully came to reject low-fat love in my own life. This book was critical in my journey toward building my life with intention, sculpting my life so that it is the one I really want to live. For that I’m forever grateful to Prilly Greene, Janice Goldwyn and all of the characters. For a while I was perplexed by Low-Fat Love, the response to it and the interest in my addressing it for so many years, because I don’t consider it my strongest writing. Today I see Low-Fat Love as a gift that keeps on giving to me. Whatever chord it struck, that allows others to self-reflect and perhaps heal, I’m so grateful. I guess what I ultimately learned is the message of my later novel, Blue: “We are possibilities.”
You can pick up the special anniversary edition of Low-Fat Love here:
Low-Fat Love was also the launch of the Social Fictions series, my proudest professional achievement. This series blurred boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, academic and commercial publishing, and has been lauded as a “watershed moment” in the academy and in publishing. Even my term “social fiction” has taken on a life beyond the series. My heartfelt thanks to Peter de Liefde for taking a chance on the series, the Sense Publishers team that makes this series happen, the editorial board for giving us the boost we needed in the beginning, my incredible assistant Shalen Lowell, each series author, and the professors and readers who have given these books a chance. I also have to publicly thank my husband who was the first person to read Low-Fat Love, the only person who knew about it, and my biggest supporter of the novel and series. There were days when I thought no one would ever publish or read it, and he encouraged me endlessly. He also helped me copy edit the first edition. Thank you!!! And to those that thought we would never publish more than two books, we have twenty out and more coming down the pike. People often ask the key to our success. There’s no simple answer but in life I have learned that vision met with hard work is always a good strategy.
To celebrate the anniversary Sense Publishers is delighted to extend FREE SHIPPING and 25% EVERY title in the Social Fictions series (for summer 2016). Use promo code 192837 at check-out. Here’s a link to the entire series:
Low-Fat Love was also the beginning of my life as a novelist. Without that book, American Circumstance and Blue would not exist. Of all my work, those two novels mean the most to me. I’m very proud of my writing in American Circumstance, the most complex of my novels, and the optimism and beauty in Blue, the most joyful of my novels. These two make for good beach reads so I’d be honored if you pick up a copy for yourself or a loved one.
American Circumstance Anniversary Edition
I recently did two of my all-time favorite interviews, celebrating the new edition of American Circumstance and the 5th year anniversary of the Social Fictions series. You can read those here:
(This interview delves deeply into the writing process)
(This was a 20-questions style interview)
I’m profoundly grateful to everyone who has come on this journey with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now I return to my writing hole to finish a secret textbook (can’t wait to share more– this has been the biggest challenge of my career), a handbook on arts-based research, and Low-Fat Love Stories, my first collaboration with a visual artist and first attempt at short stories. Please wish me luck. I hope to continue to grow and forge new paths. #SecretBookProjects #AllWaysOfKnowing #WeArePossibilities
Love and Light,