ISBN 13: 978-1-4683-0668-2
At fourteen, Kelsey Osgood became fascinated by the stories of women who starved themselves. She devoured their memoirs and magazine articles, committing the most salacious details of their cautionary tales to memory–how little they ate, their lowest weights, and their merciless exercise regimes–to learn what it would take to be the very best anorectic.
When she was hospitalized for anorexia at fifteen, she found herself in an existential wormhole: how can one suffer from something one has actively sought out? Through her own decade-long battle with anorexia, which included three lengthy hospitalizations, Osgood harrowingly describes the haunting and competitive world of inpatient facilities populated with other adolescents, some as young as ten years old.
With attuned storytelling and unflinching introspection, Kelsey Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young, as she chronicles her own rehabilitation. How to Disappear Completely is a brave, candid, and emotionally wrenching memoir that explores the physical, internal, and social ramifications of eating disorders and subverts many of the popularly held notions of the illness and, most hopefully, the path to recovery.
Praise for How to Disappear Completely:
“Why do countless young women (and not so young women, and some men, too) starve themselves to the brink of death? Do not read Kelsey Osgood’s uncompromising memoir of her own anorexia unless you really want to know the truth—unvarnished by moral, therapeutic, or redemptive pieties—about this epidemic. How to Disappear Completely gives new meaning to gutsiness.” —Judith Thurman, Staff Writer at The New Yorker, and prize-winning author of Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller and Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette
“All addictions are alike, but not anorexia. The looking glass malady covertly twists even the language of healing to its own ends. In this brilliant book, Kelsey Osgood breaks this demon’s code.” —Suzannah Lessard, former New Yorker staff writer and author of The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family
“In How To Disappear Completely, Kelsey Osgood achieves a paradox: she writes beautifully about anorexia, without beautifying or poeticizing an affliction that is anything but. Instead, her gripping story and smart analysis lay anorexia bare for what it is—greedy, cunning, and wasteful, its logic tedious, its damage too often permanent. This is important reading for parents of teenagers, and friends and loved ones of anorectics, and an education for anyone who’s felt the troubling allure of the waif archetype.” —Katherine Sharpe, author of Coming of Age on Zoloft
“What sets Kelsey Osgood’s memoir apart from the existing literature on anorexia is the author’s commitment to stripping the glamour and romance from the illness. Yes, Osgood suffered from anorexia, but she refuses here to play the game of ‘eating-disorders porn’, focusing instead on how we must learn better ways to discuss anorexia in order to ‘undermine its currency’, to save ourselves and our loved ones from the nightmare that it is. Intelligent, moving, beautifully written, Osgood has written a paean to wellness, and taken a forthright look at everything that anorexia, ‘bastard child of vanity and self-loathing’, took from her life.” —Molly McCloskey, author of Circles Around the Sun
“How To Disappear Completely is a wholly original and thought-provoking meditation—part-memoir, part sustained essay—on the coded culture of anorexia, what it purports to mean, and what it really signifies. I didn’t think I wanted to read another word about eating disorders, but Kelsey Osgood made me reassess the way I consider this illness, its genesis, and the suffering that underlies it.”—Daphne Merkin, author of Enchantment and Dreaming of Hitler
“Kelsey Osgood has written a consequential book about an important subject: the ways in which the stories anorectics tell themselves and others about the disease can be as dangerous to them as their own behavior . . . Carefully considered and delivered in finely wrought prose, it’s a book that should find a large audience.”—Caitlin Flanagan, author of Girl Land and To Hell with All That
“Clear-eyed, compassionate, and courageous, How To Disappear Completely deepened my understanding of anorexia and those who suffer from it. Kelsey Osgood is a terrific writer.”—Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking With Men
Kelsey Osgood received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Her essays have appeared in the NewYorker.com, New York Magazine, Self, and Tablet, among others. How to Disappear Completely is her first book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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