"The Obese" Book Review
Written by Nick Antosca
2012, 108 pages, Fiction
Released on January 24th, 2012
I liked to think that zombies were the ideal vehicle for building a discussion about the human condition. The undead, with their brainless attitudes and consumption, always struck me as perfect tools for satire. Sadly, the explosion in popularity that pushed the genre to produce an unprecedented number of books, comics and television programming focused on the hungry, shuffling corpses, the zombie figure became diluted and the narratives either focused on the gory elements or told the stories of those that survived the apocalypse. Then along came Nick Antosca's The Obese, one of Lazy Fascist Press's latest releases, and I was able to believe in the undead as a medium for much more.
The Obese tells the story of Nina Gilten, a photo editor who works in the fashion industry and spends her days digitally chopping up the bodies of young, skinny models until they achieve perfect, impossible proportions. Her work appears in important magazines like Teen Vogue, Chic and Marie Claire and her life obeys the rigorous regimen dictated by the industry she works for. All is well in Nina's perfect world of high fashion, empty fridges and flat stomachs, except for the fact that her boyfriend left her. When a visiting friend from high school drops by and Nina is forced to let her crash on her sofa, a small comment will lead her visitor to concoct an email that will ruin the photo editor's career. Feeling unemployed and ostracized might sound like a lot, but soon things will get even uglier. As obese people begin to rampage around New York, Nina finds herself thrown together with her ex-boyfriend, his fiancé, a model she just started dating, a supermodel who went to high school with her and the vengeful guest who ruined her career. What follows is a humorous fight for survival unlike any other in the zombie genre.
Simply but, The Obese is a wet dream come true for horror fans who enjoy smart satire. Antosca skillfully dissects the fashion industry and then puts it back together in a way that's hilarious while still ringing true. As a bonus, his prose is a fantastic and seldom seen mixture of witty, eloquent, precise and real. In a way, the author created the perfect prose to carry his matchless, fast-paced story in a place as unique as New York.
Besides the way the fashion industry is deconstructed, everything from text messages to Facebook posts fall prey to the author's sharp critique and comical treatment. On one hand, The Obese offers a gory, grotesque tale of carnage at the chubby hands of fat people with a hunger for their skinny human counterparts. On the other hand, the book is both a razor-sharp critique of an industry that deserves more of it and an emotionally gritty account that explores shallowness, love, regret and grudges. The combination makes it a must-read and you should buy it today. When you do, you'll get a nice surprise: an extra story. Predator Bait finds Antosca once again turning a mirror on society. This time around, the author takes on the world of pedophiles and the shows that turn them from predator into prey. Sad, poignant and full of psychological turmoil, Predator Bait feels like a tasty dessert sprinkled with a touch of Edward Lee flavor. Finally, if none of the above appeals to you, then buy The Obese just for the fact that Anderson Cooper gets devoured by a rampaging horde of fat people.