Fat by Rob Grant
Grenville is no longer Off the Peg. Grenville is fat, very fat. He’s not quite sure how it happened, but it has. Sitting up makes him dizzy, getting dressed leaves him breathless, the sight of his face in the mirror is always a shock. He’s not happy about it, and yes, he’s had a bellyful of people telling him he should watch his figure. In fact, if just one more person says anything at all about his weight, Grenville might just lose it.
Hayleigh can’t bear to look t herself in the mirror either. All she can see is how fat she is. She can’t bear it. People are laughing at her behind her back. Her mum and dad won’t say it of course, but even they think so. She’s trapped in her own body, looking for a way out.
Jeremy can’t bear people who can’t help themselves. People need to take responsibility for their lives, and if they won’t, the government will. Jeremy’s the PR man, sorry, Conceptuologist, who will launch Well Farm. People just can’t keep on getting fat. The Tube is already full to capacity, the NHS simply can’t take the strain. People are going to the Well Farm. If they know what’s good for them.
Fat begins with the sentence “It’s unclear precisely when it became illegal to be fat”, which leads us to imagine a dystopian future where this is the case. Although this would be an excellent premise for a novel, Grant doesn’t follow up with this, and instead drops us into the lives of three people for whom being fat may as well be illegal.
We meet Grenville, an overweight TV chef with anger issues, Hayleigh, a teenager with a severe eating disorder, and Jeremy, the newly appointed PR man in charge of promoting the government's new weight-loss camps. Grant’s use of multiple-voice narrative is effective in displaying the stark contrasts between each of three, and how weight rules over their lives.
I found this very well-written, nicely light, and absolutely hilarious. Grenville’s furious rampages, Hayleigh’s teenage rants, and Jeremy’s fuckboy attitudes, all resonated well and completely tickled me. Although there isn’t a great deal of depth to any of them, Grant has constructed these characters well enough to allow us to relate to them.
He knows when to make his serious points, and when to utilise humour in a novel which could have been problematic if handled in the wrong way. It’s very tongue in cheek, but Grant makes some thought-provoking points on the subject of weight, the nation’s obsession with it, and covers some interesting myths on the types of things we put into our bodies.