By Chris Penttila Girl’s Guide to Why it
Often Sucksinthe City,
JEN LANCASTER WILL tell or Who Are These Idiots and Why Do They
you that she’s extraordinarily All Live NextDoortoMe? Me? Her books”’
vain. She’ll also admit that she’s lengthy subtitles were m eant as a joke, but
pretty darn lazy, when it comes her editor kept them. Now Lancaster thinks
right down to it. they give her books a unique brand. “If you
Laziness may not seem like look at them, you think, ‘Oh, that’s a Jen
the key to literary success, but Lancaster book,’ which I think is so neat,”
it’s served Lancaster well. Her she says.
third book, Such a Pretty Fat: Is it awkward sharing so much personal
One Narcissist’s Quest to information through her writing? “If I had
Discover If Her Life Makes Her put that same information on my blog and
Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not had people respond to it in real time, I think
the Answer, is a witty, biting it would have been,” she says. “But having it
and honest look at her personal published and having time between writing
struggles as a plus-size woman trying to lose weight what I think and having people read it really does
in an image-obsessed society. [add] a nice buffer.”
Lancaster, 41, mines her personal life for mate- Lancaster tests new ideas on her Web site, and
rial, and the book’s title is a play on the phrase “such she’s always amazed by what resonates, such as the
a pretty face.” blog post she wrote about cupcakes more than a
“[People’s] kind way of telling you that you could year ago. “I got more response on that blog post
be thinner is by saying, ‘Oh, you have such a pretty than anything I had ever written in my entire life,”
face,’ ” Lancaster tells The Connection. “That makes she says. “And I’m like, ‘Well, I guess cupcakes are
me want to kick them until they’re dead, you know?” what bring us together.’ ”
Lancaster was born in Boston but at age 7 Lancaster’s next two memoirs will be nonfic-moved to Bergen County, New Jersey, just north- tion, but she’s mulling a sixth book that would put
west of New York City. “We could be in the city in her in fictional situations. “That would be really
10 or 15 minutes,” she says. Lancaster’s childhood funny,” she says. While Such a Pretty Fat pokes fun
version of bright lights, big city ended four years at weighty issues, it has a serious message, too: Don’t
later, however, when her family relocated to let your weight make you crazy. “Find a way to be
Huntington, Indiana. For Lancaster, it was a big cul- happy at the size that you are,” she says. “Do what
ture shock. “Literally, we could walk out of our sub- you need to do to feel healthy.”
division and see cows, corn and soybeans,” she says. That’s good food for thought. C
“It really threw me for a loop.”
Her mother’s obsession with natural, organic
cooking also threw Lancaster for a loop. One passage
in Such a Pretty Fat describes how her mother substituted zucchini slices for apples in her homemade
“apple” pies. “I grew up really thin because I hated
every single thing she cooked,” Lancaster says.
Maybe this is why she obsesses about food,
whether it’s elaborating on the occasional box of
Kix cereal she’d get as a kid (“It wasn’t sweet, but
you can almost see it being sweet, like you were
almost there!”) or remembering Team cereal (“It’s
Wheaties, only maple”) or praising her Costco
membership (“Costco was, and still is, a blessing”).
Lancaster’s writing career started in 2002 when
she created a Web site, Jennsylvania.com, to vent
about being unemployed. A literary agent contacted
her and suggested she write a book. Her first memoir, Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a
Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to
the Unemployment Office, was followed by Bright
Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority
A hilarious and sarcastic
look at weight loss
c opies of Jen Lancaster”s
S uch a Pretty Fat to give
a way. To enter, print your
n ame, membershipnum-b er, address and daytime
card or letter and send
it to: Jen Lancaster, The
Costco Connection, P.O.
Box 34088, Seattle, WA
98124-1088. Or send an e-mail to giveaway@costco.
com, with “Jen Lancaster”
in the subject line.
No purchase is necessary. Open
to legal residents of the U.S.
(except Puerto Rico) who are age
18 or older at the time of entry
and who are current Costco
members. One entry per household. Entries must be received or
postmarked by February 2, 2009.
Winners will be randomly selected
and notified by mail on or before
March 2, 2009. The value of the
prize is $14. Void where prohibited. Winners are responsible
for all applicable federal, state
and local taxes. Odds of winning
depend on the number of eligible
entries received. Employees of
Costco or Penguin Group and
their families are not eligible.
Chris Penttila is a freelance journalist based in
Carrboro, North Carolina.
Send your feedback
on this month’s book to:
IF 15 MINUTES OF LAUGHING burns 10 to 40 calories, I
recommend Jen Lancaster’s Such a Pretty Fat as a New
Year must-have weight-loss tool. The memoir, Lancaster’s
third, chronicles her quest to lose weight. She succeeds,
but not without some swearing, body aches and a few
late-night, Ambien-induced online purchases.
Lancaster’s sometimes caustic wit had me laughing
out loud—and nearly falling out of my chair. I imagine
I’m not alone in relating all too well to her experiences
with gyms, weight-loss programs and wavering self-control. Whether Lancaster’s words hit home or not,
I dare anyone to read this book and not laugh.
Such a Pretty Fat is available at most Costco warehouses and costco.com.
Costco Book Buyer