Appetites: Why Women Want
By Caroline Knapp
(Counterpoint, $24)
May 2, 2003

Following her courageous 1996 memoir, Drinking: A Love Story, Knapp explores eating disorders with equally unblinking honesty. Knapp, who completed the manuscript shortly before dying of lung cancer last June at age 42, recounts her battle with anorexia in her 20s, deftly interweaving stories of other women's experiences. Her personal details, as when she recalls slicing a cube of cheese into slivers for dinner, are more compelling than her stale, second-wave feminist theorizing on the dispiriting messages society sends women. Still, Knapp's prose is so luminous–"moments of contentment...come in the simplest packages: in a look of love from the dog, a joke shared with a friend, a spark of affection here or understanding there"–that her final book emerges as one of compassion, wisdom, and grace. B+