Diet Riot: A Fatterpunk Anthology edited by Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor

Review by Brennan LaFaro

Write the book you want to read, yeah? And in this case, edit the anthology the world lacks in terms of wide and varied representation. Society at large, and horror fiction in particular, has a problem with the way it presents fat people. Often times when a fat character is presented, they are combined with traits to steer the audience toward the conclusion that they are either the antagonist or hopelessly inept. In terms of broad generalizations, it’s decidedly not great.

So Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor have put together the anthology they wanted to read. One that depicts people of a plus-size nature as, not simply protagonists, but *gasp* normal human beings. Therein lies the strength of this group of stories. You will not find anything inside about people overcoming their body type to thrive or deriding other body types, simply a collection of characters who don’t fit society’s definition of perfection existing and having their stories told.

Steph Rabig’s “Cinderella and Her Demon Godmother” is an excellent choice for the opener. There is a line included about how over the course of thousands of years, humans have not learned to treat each other better, the cruelty is just more instantaneous now that cuts deep and rings true, setting the time for what’s to come. Nico Bell’s “The Lake House” brings the basement creeps while mixing up a hefty dose of humans are the real monsters. A terrific effort I’m glad the co-editor chose to include.

Nikki R. Leigh’s “The Floor is Lava” continues this author’s run as a phenomenal new voice to watch in terms of short fiction. Leigh mixes a good time with the grotesque here, crafting something unlike anything else in the collection. The final story is contributed by Sonora Taylor, and may well be the strongest in the bunch (as well as taking home the award for most content warnings). “Easy Bake” combines a baking challenge reality show with Squid Game and it’s everything you want it to be and more.

As with any anthology, stories will hit readers differently, but because of the relatively open theme of including a character who is fat, Taylor and Bell were able to curate a collection that strives for, and ultimately succeeds in, variety. In other words, you won’t find yourself reading the same tale twice.

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