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Tuesday, May 21

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Airbags

Bloggers-cum-authors have become something of a trend in the publishing world. It certainly seems easy enough to post outlandish stories online, have the site become a must-read among the Internet-literati and wind up with a book deal a few short weeks later. That is not what happened to Wendy McClure.

Author of the weight-loss blog Pound, Wendy posted for years about her battle with weight loss, her self-deprecating experiences with Weight Watchers and about her life in general before the possibility of a book deal became real. The result is I'm Not the New Me, a memoir chronicling the period of time from the birth of Pound to right before the revlation of the now infamous Weight Watchers Recipe cards. We're witness to Wendy's trepidation at starting a site, we learn why the site's name is Pound while the URL is poundy.com, and we watch as, to Wendy's bewilderment, the site grows enormously popular and we read about her breakups, her family issues and her struggle to know what losing this weight will mean for her.

Frequent Pound readers have surely come to expect a certain sarcastic quality to Wendy's writing and, thankfully, that trait carries from the computer screen over to the page. "Once upon a time you were fat and you lived in your fat like a castle," she writes while pondering the shift in perception from fat to thin. "Now, so the story goes, it's a glass casket and some guy will come along and see you in it. If you're lucky, he'll fall for you either despite it or because of it. You'd love to know which one for sure but you're supposed to stay dead until it happens; you don't get to wake up until he's there." It's this voice that gives the book its feeling of reality because we, as readers, ought to know better than to expect our heroine to lose the weight, snag the guy and live happily ever after as an editor at a glossy fashion magazine. That doesn't happen in real life. That's not what Wendy tries to make us believe happened to her.

If the blog/novel is ever to become a respected form, it'll only be because of talented writers. One could imagine that engaging, genuine bloggers could probably produce a decent novel as well, but only if the two genres are treated differently. Wendy doesn't try to pretend that the blog didn't spawn the book, but neither does she rely on the blog to compose the entirety of the book. What we get is two separate parts that complement each other nicely and some hope for all the bloggers out there that, someday, this little online writing thing we do might get taken seriously.

Further Reading:

Pound. Created in 2000, Pound is the blog that started it all. More than a weight-loss blog, Wendy chronicled her thoughts on relationships, work, pop culture and, yes, body issues. Still updated semi-frequently, you can comment on her posts and find out where she'll read next. Just be sure to check out the FAQ before letting loose with the 21 questions.

I'm Not the New Me. This is the book's official site, where you can keep up with Wendy's book tour and buy the book from a variety of sites. You can also download a couple of radio interviews and read some of the praise Wendy's gotten from her fellow authors.

Candyboots. Home to the much loved Weight Watchers Recipe cards. Wendy found these 1974-era cards in her mother's Oak Park home and originally posted them, with biting commentary, on Pound. If you've ever had a yearning for Fluffy Mackerel Pudding, wondered if Fish had Balls or found yourself needing a hot bowl of Inspiration Soup, these are the cards for you. I'm Not the New Me ends just as Wendy finds the cards. The rest is Internet history.

You can also read my original Detour review here.

Join the Book Club

So read I'm Not the New Me this month and join the Gapers Block Book Club on November 14, 2005 at 7:30pm to discuss the book at The Book Cellar, located at 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. Also, be sure to subscribe to the book club email list for news, announcements, discussion and more.

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About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a Chicago librarian. She welcomes questions and topic suggestions for her column at . Due to the volume of email received, she may not reply to every query, but you may be contacted if your question is selected for the column.

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