In Appetites, Caroline Knapp confronts Freud's famous question, "What do women want?" and boldly reframes it, asking instead: How does a woman know, and then honor, what it is she wants in a culture bent on shaping, defining, and controlling her desires? Knapp, best-selling author of Drinking: A Love Story and Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs, has turned her brilliant eye towards how a woman's appetite - for food, love, work, and pleasure - has become a battlefield. She uses her own experiences with anorexia as a powerful exploration of what can happen when we are divorced from our most basic hungers and offers her own success as testament to the joy of saying "I want."
Provocative, important, and deeply familiar, Appetites beautifullyand urgentlychallenges all women to learn what it is to feed both the body and the soul.
©2003 Caroline Knapp (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
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"The Heart of Compulsion and Control"
Some things to know about Caroline Knapp:
She was the daughter of the noted psychiatrist Peter H. Knapp; she was a successful reporter for the Boston Phoenix; and she wrote a bestselling book about being a high functioning alcoholic called, Drinking: A Love Story. She died in 2002 of lung cancer before this book was published.
These influences make Appetites truly compelling. Knapp’s questions; why women want, and how do women identify and demand their wants, have psychological grounding. She uses her reporting skills on herself and the broader culture to try and answer some of these questions.
The eating disorder theme in this book is an obvious draw, but Knapp makes pointed discussion of the relationship between women, food, and desire; how stunted desires can express themselves in all kinds of ways, from sex-addiction to compulsive shopping.
The lovely foreword by Knapp’s friend, reporter Gail Caldwell, was so intoxicating and affecting, I got lost in it. I forgot it was the introduction.
"I just love Knapp's writing so much"
Her prose is so beautiful and I just find myself in my car, slowly nodding along or sometimes yelling "yes! Yes!" to so much of what she has to say about women, girls, and our perceptions of ourselves. She articulates what I feel agitatedly and artfully.
"Spoiler Alert: Blame the mothers and men"
The further into this book I got, the more displeased I was at its content. It lacks anything profound or fresh and seems to endlessly pin women as victims of circumstances and culture.
"More emotional than practical"
Knapp is a good writer with a poetic prose, but sometimes it's too littered with cliches and unnecessary drama. I'm a straight forward type of communicator/reader so I found this book to be too maudlin for my taste. Although the book contain some statistics and research to back up the author's points about how we live in a culture where women are subject to feelings of intense worthlessness thus an insatiable appetite to fill their void, this is an emotional book that contain more narrative of the author's pain and struggles in said culture than practical solutions.
The narration was top notch though. The narrator read with passion, so much that I initially suspected that the author herself had narrated this book, only to find that Knapp had died at the young age of early forties to cancer.
I can see how some people could really enjoy this book, especially if they found the words to resonate with their own struggles to feel that they are not alone. Although I can identify with Knapp's voice and struggles, I've already done my own emotional work and prefer books that contain more practical solutions over melancholic ranting.
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