Emily Laidlaw reviews 'Small Acts of Disappearance' by Fiona Wright

Emily Laidlaw reviews 'Small Acts of Disappearance' by Fiona Wright

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger

by Fiona Wright

Giramondo, $24.95 pb, 200 pp, 9781922146939

Reflecting on the first day she attended a clinic for eating disorders, Sydney poet Fiona Wright admits: 'I'm ... not sure that I would ever have gone ahead with the admission if I hadn't thought that I could write about it later.' This is a remarkably self-aware statement, one that encapsulates the fierce intelligence of her linked essays in Small Acts of Disappearance.

Wright labels this – her ability to inhabit her illness while recognising its storytelling potential – her 'double consciousness'. As readers we navigate this double consciousness and quickly learn to follow two stories at once: the story Wright wants to tell (essentially, the complex history of her anorexia), and the story she seems firmly opposed to telling (the simplistic road to recovery tale). 'This isn't a narrative of sudden healing, of epiphany or of discovery', several of her essays, in various ways, warn us. For many sufferers the causes of anorexia cannot easily be pinned down. Perhaps as a result, the search for meaning forms the backbone of Wright's book.

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Emily Laidlaw

Emily Laidlaw

Emily Laidlaw is Melbourne-based writer and critic, whose writing has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Overland online, and Readings Monthly. She has edited for publications including Kill Your Darlings, Voiceworks, and Overland. She is a 2015 recipient of an Australia Council for the Arts' ArtStart grant.

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