Skip to content

April 13, 2019


#AWW 2019 Fiona Wright

by N@ncy



  1. Wright examines her own anorexia and the significance of hunger.
  2. She  writes frankly and movingly about a
  3. …difficult and very personal subject.
  4. She provides insights into her reading,
  5. travels and her interactions with others.
  6. In several essays Wright relates
  7. …her experience to that of characters.
  8. In novels  there are characters who starve themselves:
  9. For Love Alone by Christina Stead,
  10. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton and
  11. The Bluebird Cafe by Carmel Bird.


In Colombo    …malnutrition, she misses it

  1. First sentence: I’ll always remember the
  2. …particular intensity that malnutrition brings on,
  3. …I know that I miss it still.
  4. Reaction:  Hunger keeps the author separate from
  5. the rituals of society not only in Colombo.
  6. 70% impressions of the writer’s apprenticeship at a newspaper
  7. ….30% about her illness.


In Hospital   …sickest

  1. First Sentence: At my sickest, a lover once folded a
  2. blanket over my shoulderblade before curling against my back to sleep.
  3. Reaction: Hunger is a mediator, it stands between the author and the world. Hunger is addictive. Hunger is support, it is scaffolding. Hunger became my safest state.
  4. 100%….very powerful, personal and disturbing.


In Berlin     …interesting facts

  1. First sentence: I felt smaller in Berlin than I ever had before;
  2. the Northern Germans are, by and large, a big-boned people,
  3. …the shanks of their legs are particularly impressive.
  4. Reaction:  The author visits a labour camp, Sachsenhausen.
  5. The body never forgets starvation. 
  6. Sad…the author bought food to give her
  7. …pantry shelves an appearance of normality.
  8. “I didn’t choose my hunger. That no one ever does.”
  9. Wright describes returning to a family she
  10. …lived with during her studies 10 years ago.
  11. She had been well then.
  12. She did not know what lay ahead.


In Miniature  …presenting a paradox

  1. First sentence: It seems a strange place to start writing about the miniature,
  2. but I want to begin on the internet, because I found there,
  3. for a time, a thing I could hardly have conceived would have existed,
  4. a community of illness, specifically for the kinds of illnesses that
  5. …we often keep silent and hidden within ourselves.
  6. Reaction: Breathtakingly  beautiful…how Fiona Wright sees her
  7. …fascination with miniature reflected in her illness.
  8. This essay was poetic!


In Increments   …sickness personified “gnawing”

  1. I’ll never know the point where my physical illness
  2. ..gave way to something different,
  3. something more complex, but more and more I think
  4. …now that hunger was always with me, always
  5. …gnawing away somewhere in me, and my illness
  6. …just allowed this hunger to assert itself in the only
  7. …way that could possibly have been acceptable to me.


In Books I    …analogy in books

  1. The year that I first became ill, when my physical condition first developed,
  2. …was the first year that I studied Australian Literature.


In Books II    …analogy in books

  1. There are books I have had with me in
  2. …hospital waiting rooms that I can never re-read without re-reading, too,
  3. …the traces that they carry of the spaces that I took them into.


In Group  ….mother vs daughter

  1. There are some conversation that you shouldn’t have with your mother,
  2. especially if you are a poet, and especially if you are a
  3. …poet four months into you third stint of group therapy.


In Passing   …sad news

  1. I received the news digitally, in a text
  2. …from my old housemate, Kat.


In Hindsight  …looking back


  1. I resisted, for a long time, reading any anorexia memoirs,
  2. …even though I’d been reading about
  3. ..the condition in fiction and textbooks.



  1. The cover of Fiona Wright’s book keeps catching my eye.
  2. What kind of story is behind those eyes.
  3. Fiona Wright (born 1983) is an Australian poet and critic.
  4. Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays in Hunger (2015)
  5. is a collection of ten essays that detail the author’s
  6. own experience with anorexia.
  7. The longest essay is ‘In Group’
  8. the shortest is ‘In Passing’.
  9. The best?  I loved them all.
  10. I wrote down a few words about the first few essays.
  11. Each one  draws me in with the first sentence.
  12. After reading one essay
  13. ….I have to get up and do something else
  14. …I must let my thoughts settle.
  15. Fiona Wright has shared her life
  16. stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron.
  17. The more Fiona thinks about her body
  18. the more she knows it is no longer her own.
  19. Her body tries to fold up at the first sign of danger
  20. …as if disappearing into a shell.
  21. #MustRead
10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 14 2019

    I must go back and read this book. I’ve not long read & reviewed her most recent book A Whole Wide World. It was an absorbing and disturbing collection of essays/memoir writing – I learnt a lot about eating disorders I didn’t know.


  2. Apr 14 2019

    Eating disorders…young women ( ..and some men) are too conscious of their own bodies.
    Patients stand on a set of scales and they see their tiny world flickering.
    Weight? I’ve entered a time in my life…I get on those set of scales 1 x per year!
    But it is interesting to discover how difficult anorexia is to conquer.


  3. Apr 14 2019

    It’s a very moving book isn’t it. Such a devastating condition. I have her next book of essays. It was long listed for the Stella but didn’t make it to the shortlist.


    • Apr 14 2019

      I have her new book of essays on my TBR as well.
      Not ready to read anorexia books ‘back-to-back’.
      I need some time to process Fiona’s personal revelations.


  4. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages. I really must get to it. She had an interesting article in the Guardian today about her assistance dog.


    • Apr 18 2019

      Oh, I’ll have to read the article, thanks for the heads up!
      Fiona reveals the dark side of her eating disorder…and still there was a glimmer of hope.
      Writing can be so therapeutic.
      Thanks for your comment!



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #Essays Best American Essays 2017 | NancyElin
  2. #NonFicNov week 1: Year in Non-Fiction | NancyElin
  3. #NonficNov: Week 1 Year in Non-Fiction | NancyElin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: