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.