Medical Myths and Werewolf What-ifs

A Review of Sparkle Hayter’s Naked Brunch (No Exit Press, 2002)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover Photo of Naked Brunch Courtesy of the Author

The real monster in Sparkle Hayter’s Naked Brunch is the medical world that portrays certain bodies as unacceptable and in need of being fixed. Hayter’s werewolf begins as a regular woman, Annie Engel, who is tightly controlled and subjugated – bullied by a boss who uses her, used by a partner who took advantage of her to fund his way through law school before leaving her for another woman. Annie is the figure of oppressed femininity. She soon discovers that she is part of a further oppressed group, a person with a chronic medical illness called LMD (Lycanthropic Metamorphic Disorder). She finds out that even her body is vulnerable and feels that she cannot even control her own body or its actions.

She is a werewolf, struggling with the idea that she can’t control her body and that the disease has power over her. She loses conscious awareness and control when she takes her werewolf form. She seeks medical intervention and comes across Dr. Marco Potenza, who is a werewolf himself and whose family has taken the role of controlling werewolves so that they can adapt to the rest of the world. His treatment for Annie and other werewolves consists of highly damaging chemicals and addictive substances that are used to control her body. His werewolves generally end up either dead or with severe addiction and psychological damage as a result of his ‘help’.  He sees werewolves as medical oddities rather than supernatural fiction turning the mythical into the medical – something he can control.

He tries to encourage werewolves to hide their differences rather than believe that they have a role to play in society, but, when Annie meets a rogue werewolf who opposes Potenza’s “treatment plan”, she begins to explore the possible social purposes that could exist.

Hayter explores the role of social ostracism and the myth that the medical world can solve

Alternative Cover Photo of Naked Brunch Courtesy of the author

all problems. She uses the symbol of the werewolf to suggest the idea that other body types have a social purpose and contribute to our world in a meaningful way. Hayter calls on her readers to question their notions of normalcy and the standards of the ‘ordinary’ that are applied to bodies. She looks at the role of difference as a form of empowerment and the power of outsider communities to nourish their members.

You can find out more about Sparkle Hayter at

Derek Newman-Stille

2 Responses

  1. While I’m not really ‘into’ the whole werewolf genre, the way you’ve described it makes it sound a little more palatable than the usual fare. Treating werewolfism as a disease is certainly different! It does seem to echo the whole body image thing that is so prevalent, today. So many women strive for the ‘perfect’ body no matter the cost or the means, not realizing how dangerous some of those choices are. Thanks for sharing such a great review. 🙂

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