How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life: Reluctant Confessions of a Big-Butted Star

by Kirstie Alley

Published by Rodale

193 pages, 2005




Reviewed by Adrian Marks


For all its raw candor, there is something absolutely charming about Kirstie Alley's How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life: Reluctant Confessions of A Big-Butted Star. You just can't help but admire someone who takes what nature has given her -- all of it -- and not only uses it to best advantage, she turns what might be crippling to others and leverages it to set herself apart.

Terse journal-style entries -- the earliest dated December 31, 2003, the latest January 1, 2005 -- are interspersed by anecdotes from Alley's life. The journal entries and the life stories are often connected by theme so that, for example, a series of journal entries describing large quantities of food eaten and self-recrimination for same might be followed by musing on the diets Alley has tried.

"The types of selective eating I have engaged in," Alley writes in a chapter that deals mostly with the diets she's tried and her affection for the Pierre Hotel in New York, "could be organized, chronicled, and viewed like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade from the seventh floor of the Pierre Hotel, if the parade traveled past the Pierre."

From the same chapter, Alley writes:

I invented a selective eating program for myself once, and I loved it.

I combined the Atkins low- or no-carb diet with Fit for Life -- a mostly high-carb vegetarian eating plan. This was the most delicious program of them all.

I gained 11 pounds in 7 days on my self-invented program.

Despite the title, Alley tackles more than food, eating and the size of her butt in How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life and though that same title hints that this may be a self-help book, it's not. Alley talks about her love life or lack of one -- actually, she talks about that a lot -- she talks about growing up in Kansas and her cocaine-fuelled slide into L.A. that ended when she adopted Scientology, a topic she manages to discuss with affection and respect yet without nauseating the reader. Some readers -- those with delicate stomachs and sensibilities -- might well be nauseated by the candor with which Alley approaches much of her story, especially as it relates to past sexual encounters. Those readers -- and you know who you are -- would be well-advised to give How to Lose Your Ass a miss. Those who don't mind their humor tinged with raunchiness and an ample sprinkling of course language should, however, enjoy the ride.

In some ways, the ride is not dissimilar to what viewers of Alley's new cable television series, Fat Actress, have been enjoying. Like Fat Actress, How to Lose You Ass is smart, funny and right on target. The series and the book are more closely related than might be obvious from a casual distance. Though the Kirstie Alley portrayed on the television series is obviously somewhat fictionalized, some of the experiences -- and even some of the emotions -- in the book show up in the series. In both cases, though, the very real things Alley is going through are liberally leavened with humor. And, make no mistake, Kirstie Alley is one funny lady. She was funny when she was thin and, in both Fat Actress and How to Lose Your Ass, she's funny fat.

Though Kirstie Alley may be using her current body style to best advantage, it's clear that the reason both the book and the series work has less to do with the size of Alley's booty than that of her heart and her talent. | April 2005


Adrian Marks is a January Magazine contributing editor.