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Author hoping to lift readers' views on body image showcasing book in Sewickley

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 2:49 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Pittsburgh area author Marylu Zuk poses with a copy of her book, 'Whose A&& Is That?,' Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. Zuk will be signing copies of the book on body image at Sewickley's Harvest Festival on Sept. 7.

One day, Marylu Zuk took a look behind her and didn't like the view.

The result was her book, “Whose A&& Is That?” published in April by The Artists' Orchard in Peters Township. The book encourages women “not to be defined by their behinds,” said Zuk, of Venetia.

Written in “fun, lyrical verse,” as in “Dr. Seuss meets Erma Bombeck,” Zuk said the book, which she will sign and sell on Sept. 7 at Sewickley Harvest Festival, has a self-deprecating tone for women obsessed with their rear ends.

“And, that's whether it's big, little, wide or flat,” she said.

Zuk, 51, and originally from Beaver Falls, said she always has thought about writing a book.

After quitting her 18-year job as a higher education recruiter at Pittsburgh Technical Institute in North Fayette in 2010, she began working as a consultant and was able to concentrate on becoming an author.

She decided to write in a “fun, poetic” way — a style she has used to create prose for relatives and friends celebrating special occasions. And, she wanted the book to be “uplifting.”

“People spend enough time being down about something. This book is humorous and takes something that could be a drag and looks at it from a different perspective — ‘from behind,'” she said.

That humor is what Claudia Pryor, 69, of Glen Osborne, said she enjoys about the book.

“It made me feel like we are all similar and think about the same things about our bodies, especially when we get older,” she said.

“This puts a humorous spin on it. It made me realize, ‘what's the big deal, really, what's the big deal?'”

Zuk got the idea while working as a flight attendant for America West Airlines in Phoenix.

She said she met hundreds of people who — no matter how beautiful they were — would always complain about themselves.

“I thought we should focus on getting past that and stop obsessing about whatever drives us crazy. We are all in the same boat ­— no matter what part of our body we don't like,” she said.

She decided to focus on the derrière after getting a glimpse in the mirror of her own in a pair of jeans she hadn't worn in awhile. When she picked up a mirror to see how she looked from behind, she said she was shocked.

“I said, ‘Whose a-- is that?'”

“That was the initial phrase that haunted me for awhile after that,” she said. “And, I thought, ‘It can't just be me who feels like this. I should turn this into something.'”

After writing the book for about four months, Zuk said she got advice from some writers and met with a development editor for another two months.

She connected with an illustrator, Traycee Bosle, of Baldwin. In April, a book launch was held at 3rd Street Gallery in Carnegie in May, and a book party took place at Cafe Kolache in Beaver — where the books are being sold — and in June there was a book signing at an outdoor event through Poland Library in Ohio.

Zuk will participate in the Bridgewater BookFest on Sept. 14 with about 40 other authors.

The book also is being sold at Plum Berry Gifts in Cranberry and through online book sellers.

Zuk said her husband, Ed, who wasn't too sure he was ready for his wife's latest venture, and her son, Abbot, 18, a graduate of Peters Township High School, are proud of her.

“Part of my drive behind this was to be a model for my son to show him that if you want to accomplish something, you can figure out a way to do it,” she said.

“Don't let anyone tell you you can't. There will be people along the way to help you in ways you can't imagine.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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