In this work of fiction aimed at adults, Hutchison explores the secret lives that fat cells lead inside their human hosts.
This book’s introduction seems to promise a well-thought-out antidote to body negativity: “Healthy and fit humans come in all sizes. No one deserves to be bullied because they carry extra weight upon their frame.” It then takes anthropomorphism to an extreme, painting fat cells as jolly, fun-loving constituents of the human body. The story itself, however, quickly gets tangled up in its own creativity. The first half of the book is dedicated to a body-part-by-body-part accounting of what fat cells do in each part, and what they think of it. It includes descriptions of the cells’ activities in the eyes (“When we see humans read, it is a sight for sore eyes, especially if those humans are reading cookbooks!”), ears, breasts, and genitals, among others. Unfortunately, the book’s high-energy verbal patter defuses the impact of its cleverness; its copious, frequent use of alliteration (“Is craziness contagious? Is insanity inevitable? Is lunacy looming?”) obscures any larger message that the author may have been trying to convey. Her agile imagination is front and center, on clear display. However, the nonstop, rapid-fire levity means that readers never have a chance to catch their breath and decide what they think or feel about the images presented. Hutchison is at her best when she keeps the text to simpler, unadorned statements (“[F]at cells just want a little respect and a lot of laughter from humans”), and she positively shines in the second portion of the book, which offers brief essays on the personalities of individual fat cells. Each of these is written as a case study from the files of the psychotherapist Dr. R. U. Nuttee—himself a fat cell—and coupled with a simple but evocative illustration of the cell in question. Overall, the author isn’t short on talent or creativity, but they aren’t properly focused here. Perhaps her style and talents would be more suited to writing and illustrating children’s books, or to creating the short, sharp vignettes of single-panel comics.
This book’s story swings and misses, but its clever drawings win the day.