'Hunger' talk offers food for thought

Jackie Morse Kessler had an idea for a book. One day over lunch, she told her agent. When she was rich and famous, when she could do whatever she wanted she wanted to write this book, she said.

The agent was perplexed. If she wanted to write it so badly, why didn't she just do it?

Kessler hedged. A former bulimic, she wanted to write a book about an anorexic girl. But she figured there wouldn't be much of an audience.

Eating disorders aren't sexy, she said. "No one would want to read about that."

Still, her agent's endorsement emboldened her. She was in the middle of another project, but she quickly switched gears.

"It just all came flowing out in four weeks," Kessler said.

The result was "Hunger," published in October. Kessler, a Delmar resident, will read from and talk about the book at the Bethlehem Public Library on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 2:30 p.m.

Kessler wanted to write the book to help spark conversation about eating disorders. She still struggles with body issues herself, and she cringes that even cover models are digitally enhanced in this day and age.

"It just eats me up when I see people getting all wrapped up in what it is to be beautiful, what it is to be sexy," she said.

But Kessler didn't want to take a textbook approach to the topic. Growing up, she loved comic books " so much so that for a long time, she thought she was going to make her living as a comic book artist. She's also fascinated by the battle of good vs. evil and the mystique of magic.

Mixing a little of all that together, Kessler crafted a story about a girl who is visited by Death. Given a set of scales, she is told she is now one of the four riders of the Apocalypse: Famine.

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