"Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs"
(reviewed by Kam Aures APR 23, 2004)
"Frogs are curiously attracted to lawn mowers. They are apparently more hypnotic than car headlights are for deer. Perhaps it is the noise. Frogs will come from miles around to hop into the spinning blades of a lawn mower and be fileted, pureed and sprayed like fine pink mist all over the shins of slave labor. For the record, frog bones hurt." Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs is filled with essays containing descriptive passages such as this one and that is what makes this book so fun to read.
Author Cheryl Peck set out to write "the great American novel" at the age of thirteen and continued trying for the next thirty years. Unable to produce a masterpiece she finally took her friends suggestions and wrote down some of the stories that she told aloud about her cats, her family, and her life experiences as a 300-pound gay woman. She started off submitting her work to a small lesbian newsletter and then decided to compile her essays into a book.
In the form of two to five page stories, Peck's book touches on a number of different topics ranging from childbirth to religion. While most of the stories contain some element of humor there are a few that fall short. Unfortunately, most of the few that fall short are in the beginning of the book giving the impression that the entire book is going to slowly drag. However, once you get past these somewhat disappointing stories, the book moves right along.
Peck has a talent for making you feel as if you are there watching what is taking place. For instance, in one of the stories Cheryl is describing how she had to fill in for someone at a softball game. Not being the most athletic person in the world she is not thrilled about it but if she doesn't do it her friend's team will have to forfeit the game. When she is up to bat she realizes that if she hits the ball she is going to have to run, something she hasn't done since 1962.
"So I gathered every fiber of my being - and there are many, many fibers in my being - and I pointed them all toward first base, and I leaned in that direction, hoping to add speed at a later date, and - although in my heart and soul, I was running - I ... drifted ... with the grace and delicacy of a hippopotamus ... toward first base. For reasons unclear to me I was safe. They had several years to throw that ball across that plate, but apparently they threw it somewhere else. I was given instructions: if the ball went into the air I could wait, but if the batter hit it at the ground I had to run immediately. The batter hit it at the ground and once again I gathered, motivated and lumbered on down the road. I reached severe oxygen deficit at second base. I was breathing like a freight train. The field which had looked small from the stands, had grown several miles in its overall proportions. It was 94 degrees and humid. It occurred to me that I could get to third base faster in an ambulance than on foot."
This story is one of my favorites in the book as I could completely picture this 300-pound non-athletic woman huffing and puffing while running from base to base. It is stories like these that make the book a worthwhile read. Whether you weigh 300 pounds or 100 pounds there will be many stories in Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs that you will relate to. While Cheryl Peck is no Erma Bombeck this novel is a good first effort.
- Amazon readers rating: from 16 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs (January 2004)
- Revenge of the Paste Eaters: Memoirs of a Misfit (October 2005)
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About the Author:
Cheryl Peck lives with her cat, Babycakes, in Three Rivers, Michigan, where she rarely sits on lawn chairs.